EL CERRITO -- Customers will see a 5 percent to 10 percent total increase in garbage and green waste collection rates and recycling fees on their bills beginning Jan. 1, depending on the size of the receptacles they use, following City Council action Tuesday evening.
The council also heard about an award received by the city's recycling center and approved a project aimed at improving pedestrian safety near Madera Elementary School on Madera Drive at Arlington Boulevard.
Monthly garbage and green waste rates under a new contract with East Bay Sanitary will rise from $13.64 to $16.13 per month beginning Jan. 1 for residents with 20-gallon garbage cans, $21.61 to $23.08 for 35-gallon customers and $41.58 to $45.66 for 64-gallon customers.
The garbage and green waste rates have remained the same since January of 2011, said Garth Schultz, the city's environmental analyst.
Monthly recycling fees will rise from $8.54 to $8.75 for residents with 20-gallon cans, from $8.64 to $8.75 for 35-gallon can customers and from $17.29 to $18 for 64-gallon customers.
All customers receive the same 64-gallon recycling can in addition to their garbage and green waste cans. The 64-gallon recycling can is separate from the other cans, but the cost of the recycling is based on the size of the garbage can, not the recycling can.
Both increases were proportionally less for 35-gallon can customers than for 20-gallon customers in order to make
"There's a big impact of people using the smaller containers," Schultz said.
"It costs the same to pick them up and dump them and the company receives less for doing it."
Lower garbage collection revenues could have a negative effect on an offset account the city maintains to balance rates and could trigger larger garbage rate increases in the future, he said.
However, Mayor Greg Lyman said he thinks the city should stop subsidizing customers with the larger cans in its garbage and recycling fee adjustments beginning next year, as a way to encourage recycling.
The city's seven-month-old Recycling and Environmental Education Center received platinum certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council, the agency's highest award, according to a report from Melanie Mintz, the city's environmental services division manager.
It is one of 17 buildings in the state that have achieved platinum status out of 521 that have been LEED-certified, Mintz said.
Its energy and resource savings include a rainwater-collection system that reduces the use of outside water supplies by 75 percent and a solar collection system that cuts energy costs by 74 percent.
The council also agreed to go forward with a street-improvement project near Madera Elementary School.
The city will place so-called curb bulb-outs at the intersection of Arlington and Madera, which shorten the length of crosswalks, narrow traffic lanes and slow traffic, along with flashing lights embedded in the pavement at the Madera crosswalk and ADA-approved pedestrian ramps.
The project will be paid for from a $230,000 federal Safe Routes to School grant.