Homeowners may see fee for hazardous waste programs

Homeowners may see fee for hazardous waste programs

Michele Ellson
household hazardous waste fee

Homeowners could soon see a new fee added to their property tax bills, to pay for the disposal of old paint, motor oil and other hazardous wastes.

The Alameda County Waste Management Authority, also known as StopWaste, is considering a $9.55 annual fee to maintain and expand efforts to properly collect and dispose of hazardous wastes that aren’t supposed to be dumped in landfills. If approved, the fee would go into effect on July 1 and be charged annually for 10 years.

Homeowners and other interested parties – the charges would be levied on owners of apartment buildings, townhomes and condominiums as well – can offer their thoughts on the proposed fee at one of two public hearings, scheduled for this Wednesday and March 26. Those who object can submit a written protest or mail back response cards delivered by StopWaste, which oversees the program.

The fee would help StopWaste maintain its existing program, which includes hazardous waste collection facilities in Oakland, Hayward, Fremont and Livermore, along with battery and medicine drop-off sites in public buildings across Alameda County. The agency also hopes to use the roughly $5 million a year it expects to collect through the fee to boost service for small businesses, add one-day drop-off events, expand hours at its existing facilities and increase outreach.

Here in Alameda, the Alameda Police Department has a drop-off box for old medicines, while the Main Library collects used batteries.

Without the money the fee would generate, the waste management authority would need to cut hazardous was collection services, according to a report generated by HF&H Consultants.

The authority put its hazardous waste collection program in place in 1992 in an effort to enforce a state law barring the dumping of paints, motor oil, batteries and other hazardous household waste into landfills. But the funding it collects to pay for the programs – a $2.15 per ton fee collected for every ton of garbage dumped in a landfill, the same rate StopWaste has charged since 2000 – has declined as recycling and composting rates improved, diverting tons of trash from landfills.

Revenue for the past year dropped to a little more than half of the nearly $4 million cost of the county’s hazardous waste program. It’s expected to drop to about $1.2 million by 2019.

The existing program diverts less than half of residents’ hazardous wastes from landfills, the HF&H report says, pulling 1,443 tons out of landfills during the 2012-13 fiscal year while 3,400 tons are still heading to a landfill, dumped down storm drains or on the side of the road.

Property owners can deliver written protests objecting to the fee, though more than half of affected property owners would need to do so in order to prevent it from being imposed.

The meetings will each start at 3 p.m. at the authority’s office at 1537 Webster Street in Oakland. Response cards are due back by noon on March 26. Additional information about the proposed fee is available on the StopWaste website. Details for submitting written protests of the fee are here.

Comments

Submitted by Evelyn Kennedy (not verified) on Thu, Feb 27, 2014

I tried to share this article on facebook using your link. It didn't work.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Feb 27, 2014

Hey Evelyn - I'm sorry you are experiencing that; we have had some issues with our FB share button. I usually plug in the URL and am able to share that way: http://thealamedan.org/news/homeowners-may-see-fee-hazardous-waste-programs. Thanks so much for trying to help us get the word out on the piece!

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