Hesperians will be seeing their trash rates change in the coming year. Heavy users will pay more and light users will pay less, under a "pay as you throw" system approved by the City Council at their Dec. 20 meeting.


Residents currently pay $24.33 a month for unlimited residential trash pick-up. Hesperia is one of only a handful of cities in California offering an unlimited plan.


"The guy putting out one or two cans is paying the same rate as the guy putting out 19 or 20," Councilman Paul Bosacki said. "That seems patently unfair to me."


The first rate adjustment will come probably in the spring.


"The first rate adjustment will be a decrease," Julie Ryan, environmental program coordinator for the city, said Wednesday. The base rate will go from $24.33 down to $23.65. Residents who don't need to put out two of the existing 95-gallon trash cans can switch to a low-volume plan that will cost them $2 less each month, or $21.65. Residents who need more than two bins will pay $3 each for them.


The city has had a trash service franchise agreement with Advance Disposal since 1993 and the company's facility is reaching its maximum capacity and needs to expand if it is to keep up with both expected future growth and higher state recycling standards.


California mandated that city-wide recycling go up to 75 percent by 2020. Hesperia currently recycles 69 percent of its waste, with the sorting taking place at Advance Disposal's Mesa Street facility.


"Our facility needs to go up in capacity so we can process waste in a more efficient manner," Ryan said particularly when the economy recovers and building picks back up.


When Advance Disposal begins to expand their 58,500-square-foot facility to 64,500 square feet some time next year, there will be another rate increase, this time upwards, to help pay for the $14.5 million expansion. Rates will go up $1.05 to $24.70 for typical customers. The expansion is expected to begin mid-2012 and be finished by the end of 2013.


But the rate changes aren't a done deal yet. If 50 percent of customers plus one a little more than 11,000 of them object, either by attending the Feb. 21 public hearing on the issue or by sending a letter or email to the Hesperia City Clerk's office, the change fails. Full instructions on how to voice objections will be sent to residents and property owners in the near future.


"Now is not the time for new taxes," said Al Vogler, the husband of previous mayor Rita Vogler, who said the proposed fee hike is essentially a new tax.


"None of us want an increase," Mayor Pro Tem Bill Holland said, "but unfortunately, that's the march of time."