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Letter to the Editor: Protesting garbage rate increases

Two Public Notice were published on PlumasNews.com regarding rate increases for the garbage collectors. The notices, that were provided by Plumas Public Works, incorrectly site Proposition 13 and stated that one could submit a protest letter against raising the rates.

Protest letters is a component of California Proposition 218 where ratepayers are given 45 days to submit a protest letter. After the 45-day period, a Public Hearing is conducted. If 50% plus 1 protest letters are received, the rate increase is disallowed.

First, did you even see the Public Notice? Probably not. Prop 218 also requires letters be sent to all properties in the garbage district they are in. This gives citizens time to review the rate increase and if desired, mail in a protest letter.

The mailings were not sent and the Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Seems like the County is pulling a ‘fast one’ on its citizens and delivering a rate increase no matter what.

Given all the above, another problem is also presented. Rate increases are derived from a formula based on revenue and expenses and is expressed as a percentage. If the formula results in a percentage that is between 84% and 92% no increase is justified.

Well, one garbage collector’ percentage was 92.14%. That ‘.14%’ actually represents a $3,000 swing from income to expenses. That’s a miniscule amount when compared to the $2.243 million in revenue they received. And they are asking for a 10.37 increase in their rates.

So, what caused the formula to produce a rate increase? Well, in reviewing the audited financials, the garbage collector’s management decided to give themselves $126, 994 in ‘retirement plan contribution’ – a 28% increase from the previous year.

First, Prop 218 only allows expenses that pertain to directly paying for the service. Ratepayers pay the Social Security/Medicare contributions as part of payroll. So, why should ratepayers pay into their retirement? Removing retirement contributions have ZERO adverse affect on their franchise, so why are ratepayers paying for their retirement? That’s what ‘net income’ is all about and that is the proper place for their retirement funding.

The huge retirement expense caused the rate increase, and by only $3000. Reducing the unwarranted retirement expense by $3,000 would not have caused a rate increase.

What will the Plumas County Board of Supervisors do in this case? Will they side on fairness or greed?

Mark Mihevc

Graeagle

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