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City of Calexico News

Calexico to Consider Raising Rates

CALEXICO — Proposals affecting the pocketbooks of Calexico residents and businesses were scheduled for the March 18 Calexico City Council meeting, including what amounts to raising trash rates and taxicab and bus fares.

The meeting occurred after this newspaper’s deadline.

The meeting would not be open to the public to enforce social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the city announced March 16. Public comments were accepted in writing and by email.

The council was being asked to approve a $1.88 increase per month in fees for residential customers collected by Republic Services/Allied Waste for the operation of an organic waste recycling program mandated by the state. The increase to residential customers would be for the operation of the recycling program only.

At the same time, the council was being asked to approve a $2.58 per month increase for commercial customers. That includes an increase for the operation of the recycling program and for an annual rate increase tied to the Consumer Price Index increase that went into effect in January 2019. It was not factored into the monthly approved rates when the city signed a new service contract with Republic/Allied in November.

The CPI increase, according to the city’s contract with Republic/Allied, could  cover residential services, but that increase is not being recommended or applied here; only the added cost of the recycling program, according to a report by City Manager David Dale.

The same level of rate increases is being applied to the cities of Imperial and Brawley, which all have agreements in place with Republic/Allied, Dale stated in the report. 

If approved, the increases would take place for March collection services and appear in the next billing cycle.

The changes in rates amount to an annual increase of 9.26 percent for residential customers and 5 percent for commercial accounts.

An organic waste recycling program, which was approved as part of Assembly Bill 1826 in 2014, is meant to divert organic waste from landfills. Organic waste is defined as food waste, green waste, landscaping and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste.

Bus and Taxi Fares

In another matter affecting local costs, a public hearing was scheduled on a resolution that would raise the maximum taxicab and bus fares. The base rate for taxicab fares would increase by $1.50 per ride and all bus fares would increase by 50 cents.

The proposed rate increases are being recommended following a “fair market analysis” and a comparison of fares in “similarly situated cities,” according to a report by City Attorney Carlos Campos.

The increases are meant to “account for the increase in operational costs borne by both taxicab transportation service providers and bus operators,” Campos wrote in the report.

Under the proposal, taxicab fares within the city would increase from a maximum of $5 a ride to $6.50 per ride. Bus fares would increase to a maximum $1.75 for general fare, $3.50 for round-trips and $1.50 for students and seniors. This affects private bus providers and not I.V. Transit public bus service.

BID Fees

The council was also expected to consider levying fees on businesses in the city’s Business Improvement District in a two-step process.

In the first step, the council was to consider approval of an annual report of the BID advisory board and set an April 1 public hearing on levying the annual assessment on businesses in the district.

The second step involved a public hearing during the March 18 council meeting to determine if “there exists a majority protest to levying the calendar year 2020 assessment” for the district.

At issue, ultimately, is whether the city will continue to collect $100 through annual city business licenses to fund BID. That affects about 445 businesses operating within the district. The fees are used for “promotion, marketing and advertising of professional and retail businesses located in the BID,” Campos reported.

The BID is divided into two zones. Zone one includes the businesses from First to Fourth streets and from Mary Avenue west to Paulin Avenue. Zone two is Paulin Avenue west to Emerson Avenue (with Imperial Avenue located between) and from the border north to Highway 98/Birch Avenue.

Ball Fields Fencing

In other business at the March 18 meeting, the council was being asked to award a bid of $167,750 to Crafters Fence Inc. of Santee for the Adrian C. Cordova baseball fields fencing project.

The project involves building fences for three baseball fields in the undeveloped portion of the park. The 15-acre Cordova Park is located on Clinton Avenue between Zapata Drive and Meadows Drive in the eastern part of Calexico.

On March 5 the city received three bids, with Crafters being the lowest bid. The others were Red Hawk Services Inc. of Perris ($244,070) and George Mitchell Builders Inc. of Brawley ($253,000).

The fencing project is already budgeted into the current 2019-20 fiscal year for the Capital Improvement Program and is being paid for through Measure H bonds. Measure H is a voter-approved half-cent sales tax. Cordova Park is being worked on in stages as funding becomes available.

This story is featured in the Mar 19, 2020 e-Edition.

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