It's hard to imagine a worse first-ever vote as a public servant than being asked to increase the garbage collection rates by 14% due to an international crisis, but unfortunately, we don't always get to choose.
Immediately after being sworn in as a member of the Corte Madera Town Council, Mill Valley Refuse Service (MVRS) presented us with a dire situation: China had suddenly begun refusing to import recyclables from the US, turning MVRS' business model on its head; now, what used to be a source of revenue for MVRS had become a ballooning expense, as there are almost no recycling processing facilities in the Bay Area.
By the time they came before the Council, MVRS was facing a shortfall of almost $2.5 million, as a direct result of China's capricious and unilateral decision. After initially requesting a rate increase of 14.83%, the Town worked with MVRS to find ways to cut costs, leading to a final request for a 13.77% increase.
This is of course still a very steep increase to ask residents to shoulder, but given the current uncertainties in the recycling market, there is virtually no alternative. We will work urgently with MVRS to find a permanent solution that stabilizes the situation.