After most of them recently questioned whether the Solid Waste Management Authority should exist, county supervisors made their appointments to the Authority Board on Tuesday.
They voted 4-1 to appoint supervisors Roger Gitlin and Mike Sullivan, with Supervisor Martha McClure dissenting.
The supervisors’ decision comes after a Jan. 22 discussion in which they decided that the Authority Board’s previous 10-member format was too unwieldy. During the discussion, Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen said the city and county should find a different way to manage its garbage and recycling pickup and hauling services.
McClure argued that by withdrawing from the authority’s joint powers agreement, the county could lose the asset of the transfer station while becoming solely responsible for the liabilities of the closed Crescent City Landfill. Garbage collection fees could increase in the outlying parts of the county without the authority, she added.
Although the other supervisors agreed with Hemmingsen, they chose to wait until a joint meeting with the Crescent City Council before deciding whether to withdraw from the authority JPA.
On Tuesday, Hemmingsen nominated Sullivan and Gitlin for the Authority Board. They will join Crescent City Councilman Rick Holley and Mayor Rich Enea, who currently chairs the board. Those four members will appoint a member of the public to fill the fifth seat.
The solid waste issue was on Tuesday’s agenda because of the Authority Board’s need for a county representative to transact business, Sullivan said. A joint meeting with the City Council has been scheduled for May to discuss the authority’s existence, he said.
Although discussions haven’t yet gone as far as looking into privatization of the Solid Waste Authority, Enea said the city has been looking into hiring a consultant to research the advantages and disadvantages to the city and county of dissolving the JPA.
“I think it’s important to find out if there’s an advantage or a disadvantage,” Enea said, adding that he didn’t have an opinion yet on whether the JPA should be dissolved. “I’ve made my position clear on the Council. I don’t know enough about it.”
Holley said that although some Council members previously expressed an interest in privatization of the authority, that issue was never placed on a meeting agenda for discussion.
At the Tuesday supervisors meeting, Crescent City resident Richard Miles, who sits on the Del Norte Solid Waste Task Force, said Authority Board members should represent the interests of the city and county.
“When you sit on that body, you as a delegate are representing the county, this Board of Supervisors, you’re not representing your own personal interest,” Miles said. “I hope a number of issues will be addressed in the remaining months of this year because I think it’s critical. But again, don’t, please don’t, march with your own personal agendas.”
Another Task Force member, Andy Larson, questioned the legal determination that allowed the Authority Board to convene Feb. 26. At that meeting, because the 10-member board had dissolved on Dec. 31, the authority’s attorney determined that it could revert to its five-member manifestation. McClure represented the county at that meeting, while Holley and Councilwoman Kelly Schellong represented the city.
Larson argued that when the 10-member Solid Waste board was created it caused the five-member board to permanently dissolve. He also added that as a member of the Task Force, he was not notified about the Feb. 26 meeting.
“The problem I have is that if it’s not a legal meeting if a contract was awarded, the contract is null and void,” Larson said. “That needs to be resolved.”
At the Feb. 26 meeting, the Authority Board chose a chairman and approved a contract with Northcrest Auto Center to haul away abandoned vehicles. It also approved an agreement with EBA Engineers to provide environmental services at the closed landfill.