OAKLAND -- Garbage bills are set jump 50 percent next year for many Oakland residents under a proposed franchise agreement that is getting a frosty reception from council members.
The council on Thursday is scheduled to debate a proposed 10-year agreement with Waste Management to collect trash, recyclables and organic waste from homes and businesses and haul trash to the firm's Altamont Landfill.
The deal has come under fire from a competing firm, California Waste Solutions, whose representatives said the city didn't give them a fair shake. And isn't expected to go over well with residents who will face steep rate increases.
At a minimum, the average monthly bill for singe family homeowners would jump 50 percent from $29.30 to $43.93. Rates would increase 25 percent for apartment building units and 22 percent for commercial properties.
Rates would jump even higher if council members elect to demand additional services such as a local call center, guaranteed food and yard waste bins for apartment complexes and union-backed wages for garbage sorters.
However, Oakland Public Works officials wrote that rates would increase even more if the city chose not to contract with Waste Management for the full range of garbage and recycling services. They also questioned whether California Waste Solutions would have an adequate facility to handle the work in the early years of the agreement.
The city has long known it was facing a steep rate increase. Oakland's last deal with Waste Management, signed nearly two decades ago, tied rate increases to the Consumer Price Index, which did not increase as quickly as the company's fuel and labor costs.
"Any time a contract expires you will see an increase in rates," said David Tucker, the firm's director of community and public relations.
In the past three years new franchise agreements have jumped rates by 45 percent in Albany, 25 percent in Berkeley, 27 percent in Dublin and 45 percent in Emeryville, according to an Oakland city report.
Under the proposed agreement, Oakland's single-family home owners would pay the East Bay's second-highest garbage costs, trailing only Piedmont, according to a 2013 report from the firm Armanino.
Rising costs in Oakland also are attributable to the city's efforts to reduce waste and fight illegal dumping. The contract with Waste Management would require that garbage from apartment buildings be sorted after collection so that food and yard waste could be diverted from landfills. By 2020, Tucker said, the amount of Oakland trash hauled to landfills would drop from 164,000 tons to 40,000 tons.
Waste Management also has agreed to restore amnesty days at its San Leandro recycling center, increase bulky waste pickups and dedicate crews to pick up waste at illegal dumping hot spots, Tucker said.
The city has been working for more than two years on the franchise deal that has come under fire frequently from council members eager to reduce illegal dumping and divert landfill waste without making rates skyrocket.
City officials faced heavy criticism last year when several garbage industry giants declined to bid on Oakland's franchise deal even though the city had paid $1.1 million to a consulting firm in part to help attract multiple competitive bids.
The only bidders were Waste Management, which already handles garbage and some recycling services for the city, and California Waste Solutions, which also handles some recycling.
Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan was "outraged" after seeing the proposed agreement with Waste Management, her spokesman Jason Overman said. "We were promised a fair, competitive process. She doesn't feel that's happened," Overman said.
Councilman Noel Gallo said he would question how rates might be reduced. "The proposed rate increase is going to surprise a lot of people and anger a good many of them," he said.
Council members aren't expected to make a final decision on the franchise agreement Thursday. The agreement won't take effect until July 2015.
California Waste Solutions CEO David Duong said in a letter to council members last week that its proposal to handle curbside garbage and recycling was "more than $5 million less expensive" than Waste Management's. Duong accused city staffers working "in secret" with Waste Management on a deal that lowered rates while securing the firm better terms.
"It should be an embarrassment for Oakland that its staff treated the minority-owned, local competitor, California Waste Solutions, unfairly by secretly conspiring with (Waste Management to change the rules without telling (us)," Duong wrote.
Oakland Public Works spokesman Kristine Shaff said in a statement that the city met multiple times with both firms and asked them "to provide a lower cost and to bring anything to the table that would help lower the cost."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.