Local News

Wednesday, Nov 14 2012 03:04 PM

County approves mandatory recycling program in metro Bakersfield

BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

The Kern County Board of Supervisors late Tuesday evening approved a fee to fund curbside recycling for 43,000 residential properties in the county areas of metropolitan Bakersfield.

The owners of those properties will see their annual bill for refuse service, traditionally paid through their property tax bills, increase from $209.64 to $245.64.

Supervisors received about 250 written protests of the increase, said Clerk of the Board of Supervisors Kathleen Krause. But it would have taken more than 20,000 protests to automatically block the increase.

Liz Keogh, who lives in the La Loma area, is unhappy about both the program and the fee.

"It is unfortunate that they're doing this, even though it's only three bucks a month, it's another intrusion onto my private life," she said. "I think that making people do stuff is too bad. If you want people to be independent and responsible, stop telling them what to do."

She waited around until 9 p.m. Tuesday evening to speak to the board on the issue at the end of a marathon meeting, even though she knew it was a long shot.

She wasn't surprised that the county made the decision to create the fee.

"But one of my favorite quotes from Wayne Gretzky is, 'you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take,'" Keogh said of the hockey star.

Keogh said she thought a good dozen people who came to speak about the increase left before the item came up on the agenda.

The county is pursing the program, according to county reports, because statewide recycling standards are toughening and the city of Bakersfield is also implementing a mandatory program.

County Waste Management Director Doug Landon said the county's trash haulers will immediately start the process of delivering blue carts to residents, with bins first going out to the public in January and all being distributed by the following November.

The higher tax rates will officially kick in in July 2013 but residents will first be asked to pay for the service in November, when most people pay the first installment of their property taxes.

"A lot of people will get their cart and start using it before it shows up on the tax bill," Landon said.

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