County looking into Allied Waste complaints, rate hikes and resignations

The often-tense relationship between Allied Waste and local municipal customers hit another low point Tuesday, when the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors launched an investigation into rate and service complaints and the recent resignation of two key executives.

The board will look into the resignations last week of Peninsula General Manager Chris Valbusa and District Manager Bill Jones, as well as an 11.74 percent rate increase for unincorporated area residences and an apparent spate of service quality complaints.

Board President Jerry Hill called for a special subcommittee, and a meeting with Allied corporate management is being scheduled.

“I want to know more about whether the dissolution of the San Mateo County management and bringing the office under the South Bay district will impact our services,” Hill said.

Allied spokeswoman Stacey Wagner told the supervisors that Valbusa and Jones both voluntarily resigned in the aftermath of the county office reorganization.

Hill said he found it “hard to believe” that the spike in gasoline costs has actually increased Allied’s total cost of sales enough to justify a new 7.74 percent fuel recovery fee and 4 percent environmental recovery fee in the county’s unincorporated areas.

“There was no public discussion or advance notification before this unilateral rate increase was announced,” Hill said.

In January, the South Bayside Waste Management Authority, representing most Allied Waste customer cities from Burlingame to Palo Alto, charged that Allied (formerly Brown-Ferris Industries) drew complaints of 9,558 missed pickups in 2005 and did not clear 670 of them within 24 hours as required by contract.

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