Bakersfield residents will soon pay a little more for refuse and recycling services provided by the city.
On Wednesday, the City Council approved a 3.5 percent increase on refuse and recycling rates for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The annual cost for single-family homes will jump from $200 to $207 annually while for multifamily units it will rise from $180 to $186 for the year.
Commercial rates also will go up 3.5 percent, according to the city.
Councilman Willie Rivera was the only council member to vote against approving the increase, with Councilman Bruce Freeman absent. Rivera said he didn’t like the idea of raising fees when the city is considering a sales tax measure for the November ballot.
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable raising any fees anywhere given we might find ourselves with more revenue than we do currently and I wonder whether or not it makes more sense to delay or postpone fee increases such as this,” he said.
Public Works Director Nick Fidler told The Californian that the increase is needed due to rising costs for the city to provide the services. The city also is seeing revenue decreases in selling the recycled materials.
Fidler said compensation for hauling contractors fluctuates annually based on the Consumer Price Index. The cost to use the contractors is expected to go up 3.5 percent this year. The contractors haul around 50 percent of Bakersfield refuse, according to the city.
“We try hard for our customers, but sometimes we unfortunately have to pass inflation costs onto our customers, and this is one of those times,” said Solid Waste Director Kevin Barnes.
Besides the hauling prices, the city is also struggling to make a profit on some of the recyclables it collects. Historically, Fidler said, the city sold plastic, paper, aluminum and other kinds of recyclables to local processors who then sold them to China.
However, late last year, Fidler said, China stopped buying any recyclables because they now have as much as they need for the time being. Since then, the materials have been sold to companies across the country with more stringent criteria for what they take in.
The city is having to spend more time and money cleaning and refining the recycled material, to the point where the city is losing money on selling it, Fidler said.
It's always a good time to think about adopting a pet, but this weekend is an especially prime time, with all animal adoptions at Kern County Animal Services being sponsored by local businesses.
Now through the end of business Monday, North Bakersfield Toyota and Bill Wright Toyota will sponsor all adoptions at KCAS shelters in Bakersfield, Mojave and Lake Isabella. The businesses were inspired to help KCAS after hearing about its "Just One Day" adoption event on Monday, when all adoption fees will be just $11 for 11 hours, from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Bakersfield shelter.
Animals at the Bakersfield shelter, 3951 Fruitvale Ave., will be available during normal hours on Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours on Monday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., for Just One Day.
The Mojave shelter, 923 Poole St., and Lake Isabella shelter, 14891 Highway 178, will offer adoptions only through their regular hours but will still receive the sponsored adoption.
This is the sixth year that county shelters have taken part in Just One Day, when the staff focuses all resources on adoptions and none on euthanasia. The shelters' goal is to adopt out every animal to a loving home.
KCAS Director Nick Cullen expressed his gratitude toward the businesses for helping the shelters in their goal.
"Our vision of a No Kill Kern County will not happen without community support, and what we are experiencing these last five years is a tremendous amount of that support," Cullen said. "What Bill Wright Toyota and North Bakersfield Toyota have offered to do is yet another example of local businesses that believe in a better life for Kern's animals, and it is simply outstanding."
Those who use the Truxtun Avenue on-ramp to get onto the Westside Parkway will have to make an adjustment next week.
The on-ramp will be closed June 12-14 between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the removal of material from construction projects in the area, according to the city. Those wanting to get onto the parkway are encouraged to use the Mohawk Street on-ramp.
The Westside Parkway offramp onto Truxtun is not expected to be affected.
The Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning is still accepting students for its health and fitness courses.
A water aerobics/fitness class is being held Monday through Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. or 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. through June 28. Another class is running from July 9 to Aug. 2 at the same times.
A yoga class is also being offered Monday through Thursday from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. through June 28 and in another session from July 9 to Aug. 2.
The cost is $59 for a session in either class. To register and for more information, visit bit.ly/2JKvtVI.
Bike Bakersfield will be holding a Full Moon Ride on June 28.
The free ride is at 8 p.m. and starts at Beach Park, located at Oak and 21st streets. Riders will make their way along the Kern River Parkway Trail, go through Cal State Bakersfield and end up at The Marketplace, 9000 Ming Ave.
Staff will be on hand with repair equipment in case any problems arise.
For more information, call 321-9247.
Grimmway Farms has awarded 55 scholarships to recent high school graduates through its Rod and Bob Grimm Memorial Scholarship Program.
The program provides college scholarships to high school seniors and recent graduates who have a strong academic track record and have a parent or guardian who works for Grimmway Farms.
Since the program was created in 1997 in honor of the company’s founders, it has awarded more than 600 scholarships totaling more than $1.65 million. The scholarships are renewable for up to four years.