Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/24/2010 05:19:56 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – City leaders may try to wring millions of dollars from the city’s refuse business and other utilities as part of plans to solve San Bernardino’s $24 million deficit.

That idea is in line with a recent consultants’ report listing 100-plus ways to reform trash collections.

“To be able to improve the flow of payback to the general fund … would substantially assist us in our budget balancing,” Mayor Pat Morris said.

Prop. 218 prohibits San Bernardino from using its Integrated Waste or other government-owned utilities as cash cows. But it is legal for local governments to charge public utilities for city services.

City Manager Charles McNeely has already advised the City Council that about $3.4 million could be gained during fiscal 2010-11 if 15 percent of refuse, water and sewer revenues could be transferred to the general fund.

For that to happen, the City Council must commission another analysis to make sure the transfers are legal.

Also, San Bernardino must conduct a separate study before any increase to trash collection rates. Any potential rate increases would likely be minimal, interim Public Works Director Randy Kuettle said.

The accounting shift is not the only money-making idea being contemplated.

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