In case inflation isn’t impacting Cypress residents enough, the Cypress City Council approved a 32.5% increase in the residential trash rate at their November 22 meeting that goes into effect in Spring of 2022.
The current monthly residential rate of $16.17 in Cypress will increase to $21.43. The only way the increase wouldn’t happen is if 50% of the parcels in our city protest the increase. There will be a protest meeting in January.
This increase doesn’t include the estimated 5% to 6% cost-of-living increase that will be considered in April 2022.
While a significant amount of the increase relates to the new state mandated organic waste program that will begin in 2022, a portion of the increase is to adjust the rate because Valley Vista has been losing money on recycling.
While the contract with Valley Vista was initially negotiated to allow for an annual cost-of-living increase of 3.5%, the City Council has changed the formula so that Valley Vista will be allowed to increase rates by 3.5% plus 85% of the difference between the 3.5% and the actual cost-of-living index.
The example used in the meeting was that the current annual cost-of-living rate is 6.2% so Valley Vista could charge an additional 85% of the difference between 6.2% and 3.5% which would amount to an additional 2.8%. As such, if the high inflation rate continues, we can expect another 5% to 6% increase in April on top of the 32.5% increase.
The Cypress City Council seems to be more concerned about making sure that Valley Vista is profitable than the financial impact on the residents. While a chart was presented showing a number of cities paying more per month than Cypress residents do, it seemed too selective as it’s not likely that Cypress is the lowest and there was no comparison of the services provided in the other cities. Additionally, the City Council extended Valley Vista’s contract to 2037. The initial contract started in July 2015 and was originally set to expire in July 2025, which made it a 10-year contract. The City Council has now more the doubled the term of the contract to a total of 22 years without a bid process so that Valley Vista can get the financing they need to acquire new equipment.
This contract should have gone back out to bid. A bid process is the only way to determine what the rate should be rather than a selective rate survey. It seems inappropriate for a City Council to have the authority to modify a contract that more than doubles the original term of the contract and ties the hands of future City Councils beyond any of the terms of the current members.
Anyone elected to the City Council in 2022, 2024, 2026, or 2028 will be termed out before this contract can be bid again. Not until those elected as new Council Members in 2030 will a Council Member have a say in a new contract and even then, it won’t be until the last year of their second term.
How to protest this increase? A rate adjustment notice will be mailed to all property owners 45 days before the public hearing and will include the process for written protest. The public hearing is scheduled for January 24, 2022.
Written protests by property owners or tenants liable for the solid waste rates will be considered, per parcel (service address or assessor parcel number), if submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day of the hearing to the Office of the City Clerk, Cypress City Hall, 5275 Orange Avenue, Cypress, California 90630, or at the hearing in Council chambers prior to the close of the public hearing.
Editor’s Note: George Pardon is a former financial executive within the California State University system and the founder of the advocacy group Citizens for the Responsible Development of Cypress.