http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2014/03/28/garbage-rate-increase-tuesday-and-why


Pleasanton Weekly

Column - March 28, 2014

Garbage rate increase Tuesday, and why

W

hen Tony Macchiano and Bob Molinaro set up shop in 1969, they never dreamed that the small town of Pleasanton and its 12,000 population would grow to over 72,000 people 45 years later. Tony worked on a tractor, bulldozing garbage seven days a week while Bob hauled it away to a landfill just outside of town.

Times have changed. And although Tony and Bob still run the company, Pleasanton Garbage Service today utilizes some of the best technology available to refuse collectors in the country, even picking up containers at homes and businesses with natural-gas-powered trucks that are reasonably emission-free. In fact, it's these technologies and ongoing, stepped up environmental and regulatory requirements that are digging into PGS's profits while also forcing the company to seek expanded service areas.

So it's a concern that the decades of close, cooperative working relations with the city of Pleasanton — that has regularly approved a franchise agreement with PGS since June 1989 — is facing troubling times. Last week, the City Council rejected for a second year in a row PGS's bid for a double-digit rate increase, voting instead for a 7.8% hike effective next Tuesday, April 1, well below the 12.15% PGS said it needs for all of 2014. Macchiano and Molinaro were at the meeting and begrudgingly accepted the lower rate increase, but they'll no doubt be back to seek an upward adjustment.

It was also clear from comments made by Assistant City Manager Steve Bocian that negotiations with PGS, historically easy-going, have entered troubled waters. For the first time, City Councilwomen Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Karla Brown, who have joined Bocian and a consulting firm in PGS negotiations, said the disclosures by PGS and its allied contractors lacked the transparency the Pleasanton government needs to make contractual decisions. They also indicated a need to re-look at the PGS franchise, which expires in five years.

National public accounting and consulting firm Crowe Horwath recently audited, at the city of Pleasanton's request, financial information PGS made available. Although PGS made relevant financial data available, it was less forthcoming on how charges are calculated by firms such as Recycling & Resource Recovery Systems and others that carry waste and recycled materials to other locations.

There was a material profit component in RRRS related-party charges that Crowe couldn't precisely determine through the information provided by PGS. Those charges affect how much PGS should be charging Pleasanton customers. As an example, Crowe said the $145 per hour charged by RRRS is well above the $100 an hour other carriers use to truck material to landfills.

In another finding, Crowe said repair and maintenance charges for PGS trucks appear to exceed industry averages. Crowe also examined PGS costs related to employee benefits, fuel and oil, taxes and licenses, even postage and office supplies. For the most part, Crowe found these expenses in line with industry standards, but still not sufficient to warrant the 12% rate increase PGS wants. It recommended 7.8%, and the council agreed.

Bocian and the two council representatives seemed most concerned with the lack of progress they made on discussing the PGS franchise. As a result, the council asked city staff to conduct a competitive process for a refuse provider after the PGS franchise expires in 2019.

Let's hope both sides can find a smoother road to travel.

Macchiano and Molinaro are longtime residents here, both are active in Pleasanton civic and professional organizations and frequently contribute their time and skills on projects that benefit the community. Macchiano, who had a construction and plastering business before moving here, worked on refurbishing the Palace of Fine Arts and the Bank of America building in San Francisco. He married Molinaro's sister and then joined in the purchase of the old Pleasanton Garbage Company. Active in the Pleasanton Lions Club, Macchiano is known for his famous barbecued chicken or steak dinners that he and the Lions Club offer frequently at community events.

During recent deliberations by the East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force, some consideration was given to helping PGS relocate its operations farther east on an extended Busch Road so that it might also seek service contracts with other cities, including Livermore. That could help PGS finance the millions of dollars it now spends on state-of-the-art equipment while also allowing it to keep lower collection rates in Pleasanton as demanded by the City Council.

Comments

Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Shame on you for defending these clowns.

When I moved to Pleasanton from another Bay Area city, my monthly garbage fees DOUBLED, for services that are technologically at least 5-10 years behind. We already have nearly the highest garbage fees in the Bay Area. Our rates are substantially higher than what our neighbors pay in cities like Dublin and Livermore.

Why do we have to continue to tolerate these ridiculous cost increases that far exceed the rate of inflation? Because Tony makes great barbecued chicken for Jeb and the City Council?

It is time to kick these guys to the curb and open up this garbage monopoly to some good old fashioned capitalist competition. We certainly can't do any worse than what we have now.


Posted by liberalism is a plague, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:31 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)


Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:40 pm

For less than $8.50 a week, they haul away anything I can stuff into those cans! That is, by far, one of the best values around...


Posted by registered user, liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2014 at 10:53 pm

"When I moved to Pleasanton from another Bay Area city, my monthly garbage fees DOUBLED, for services that are technologically at least 5-10 years behind" - I would really like to know how the services are so far behind? What is the technology that we should be employing that everyone else is using that Pleasanton is not? Forgive my ignorance, but I don't pay that much attention to garbage, but I guess I should.


Posted by Leslie, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:29 am

Thanks Jeb, you made you point in this sentence, "both are active in Pleasanton civic and professional organizations."

It is clear that through campaign contributions of food, wine and money (check the Mayor and Council's documents on the city's website) one of them are my neighbor whom lives in a huge Ruby Hill home, and has done VERY well for himself. Both Bob and Tony have done well thanks to a monopoly type of contract with the rate payers of Pleasanton, and approved by our own elected officials.

Go out for bid, please. This guy needs some competition.


Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm

The article says "some consideration was given to helping PGS relocate its operations farther east on an extended Busch Road so that it might also seek service contracts with other cities, including Livermore." Huh, we are trying to help a private company to make more money?

If PGS wants to move to gain more business, they are a business and can move at any time. As long as it does not cost the current rate payers or the city anything, that is ok. But the city should not be paying anything to help the company move. The current location is just fine for our needs.


Posted by Jtjh, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 8, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I checked the prices and was surprised to note that PGS apparently charges for bringing out the trash cans of residents who are unable to do this themselves. It's admittedly a very small amount, but I'm surprised that the extra fee is even permitted. (Though I would hope that neighbors move the trash cans for those who are elderly or disabled, so that no one has to pay the fee anyway!)


Posted by concerned, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 9, 2014 at 9:44 am

It always seems to be that people with money get their way!!! I'm all for working hard and making money but sometimes, officials allow those that have money and maybe contribute in one way or another to get extra breaks !!!


Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I am all for the Pleasanton garbage business going out for a competitive bid. My new rate for trash and yard pick up is over $100 quarter. that is more then I pay PG&E for electricity in a three month period.
Often times, I put stuff out on the curb and hang a free sign on it, it gets picked up. I suppose I could start boxing my garbage and hang a free sign on it.


Posted by Barbara Costello, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 10, 2014 at 8:02 am

I was dismayed at the price increase. This is the second in two years. I was more irritated to hear that it was due to a cost of living raise and a new union contract for the drivers. I support small business and I am glad that the owners are community focused but they also need to be fiscally responsible and transparent. One of their office employees told me that California guarantees every employee a cost of living raise every year - uh, not really. The private sector doesn't guarantee anything. If you work hard you get to keep your job and be grateful for it. I would like to see the city put this contract out for bid and make sure that we are getting competitive, market bases prices and services.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

The People United Will Never Be Defeated!
El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido!

Perhaps it's time to organize and protest the rate increase.


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Response to "Me Too" -

Many cities have far more sophisticated recycling programs that redirect far more types of materials. PGS caught up a bit a few years ago, but they made a big fuss about it, and forced another large rate increase on us at that time. Even after all that drama, we are still way behind.

Many other companies also provide curbside pickup of large items or extra garbage, often as part of their (lower) monthly fee. We have to haul those items to the transfer facility ourselves, and pay an extra fee for the privilege.


Posted by Paul Aguire, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Apr 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Just got back from vacation and got my bill. My fees went from 107 to 115!!! Not to much money but I am already paying a ton if I do not say so. The service sucks also. They did not pick up my trash on my pick up day during the holidays (they picked up all my neighbors) I called before an hour had passed and the girl told me that they were short staffed because of the holidays and they had no one to send back out so I could either wait a week until my next pick up or bring the can to the center itself and they would not charge me!


Posted by Right, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Not surprisingly, the increase on the bill is stated as being attributed to increased labor and union costs. There you go, now you know who to blame.


Posted by Jtjh, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm

With reference to the mention of having to pay a fee to dispose of large items at the transfer facility....

In my opinion, this is a really bad policy, because it encourages fly-tipping.


Posted by registered user, anon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

First of all we all must remember that PG holds a monopoly of the garbage business in ptwn. If the city doesnt approve their hikes, we are without refuse service unless waste management comes in. Also, have you ever tried to park around PG offices to go in and pay your bill? All the spots are taken by employees with no place for the public to park. And, their handicap parking spots are not up to code. Aso, Tonys so cheap, they dont accept CC/debit unless your behind. I would vote for any new garbage company that wants to come to ptwn.


Posted by registered user, anon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

First of all we all must remember that PG holds a monopoly of the garbage business in ptwn. If the city doesnt approve their hikes, we are without refuse service unless waste management comes in. Also, have you ever tried to park around PG offices to go in and pay your bill? All the spots are taken by employees with no place for the public to park. And, their handicap parking spots are not up to code. Aso, Tonys so cheap, they dont accept CC/debit unless your behind. I would vote for any new garbage company that wants to come to ptwn.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 16, 2014 at 8:50 am

What's "fly-tipping"?