22 Aug 2014
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City Cuts Deal on Trash Rates; Petrilla Challenged

In exchange for extending CR&R's contract, RSM gets guarantee it will have the lowest bills in South Orange County. Also, Jesse Petrilla doesn't deny he misled community.

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It may be a garbage deal, but it smells sweet to Rancho Santa Margarita leaders.

The City Council approved changes to a contract with the city’s waste hauler, CR&R, that will ensure local businesses and residents pay lower monthly trash rates than eight other similar cities in the county, including San Juan Capistrano, Aliso Viejo and Lake Forest.

“Tonight, after months of negotiations, our City Council delivered a tremendous deal for every RSM household and business,” Mayor Tony Beall said. “I’m very proud of the contract we just approved. It literally guarantees RSM residents will always pay the lowest trash hauling rate for any city in South Orange County.”

The rates will also remain in the “lowest one-third among all Orange County cities with substantially similar services,” according to a city staff report.

The revised contract, approved on a 4-1 vote, adds a number of services for residents and businesses, including a free annual electronics recycling event and free bulky-item pickups four times a year.

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CR&R has been the city’s garbage hauler since May 2005, and its current contract was scheduled to expire June 30, 2015. The new deal extends the contract to June 30, 2020, and automatically renews it every five years without another council vote or bidding. If the city decides to cancel the service, it must give CR&R 12 months' notice.

According to city staff, if the council dismissed CR&R, searching for a new garbage hauler would cost roughly $150,000.

Councilman Jesse Petrilla, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said that $150,000 was “worth being spent.” That's partly because the money would be reimbursed by a new garbage hauler, he said. Petrilla also argued that seeking new bids could produce even lower rates.

But Councilman Jerry Holloway praised the new contract: “This is such a good deal … Will CR&R be able to turn any kind of profit?”

“Yes,” replied Dean Ruffridge, senior vice president of CR&R, standing from his seat in the audience to answer the question, causing a few chuckles from the small crowd. 

Petrilla gets challenged

In other City Council business, Councilman Jesse Petrilla announced he was and said this would be his last regular City Council meeting for about a year.

Patch Editor Martin Henderson thanked Petrilla for his service to the nation, but then questioned him about statements made over the last year and asked Petrilla to set the record straight before he leaves.

Henderson accused the councilman of ignoring Patch's calls and “running away” from him after meetings to avoid talking with the press.  

"Over the past year, it is my opinion that Jesse Petrilla has purposefully misled the residents who put him in office," Henderson said. "If I am wrong, I want to be corrected."

Henderson asked Petrilla three questions and said he would regard any failure to respond "as an understanding that you have purposefully lied to this community." Specifically, he asked:

  • Was Petrilla still receiving benefits from the city on March 28, when he said he was no longer receiving benefits?
  • that he had elected to terminate his city-provided benefits three years before the end of his term (November 2014) when he didn't broach the subject with the city until last month?
  • Who in the Army to city meetings while training at Fort Knox?

Petrilla did not respond.  

Residents urged to donate organs

The Rancho Santa Margarita parents who lost their baby daughter, , to a rare illness urged people to donate organs.

In 2011, 7-month-old Ruby Jane passed away before she could receive the liver transplant she desperately need. The Taylors were honored by the City Council as part of April's Donate Life Month in California. Ani Taylor said people can learn more about donating at DonateLifeCalifornia.org or RubyJaneFoundation.com.

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