By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Keeping the gate to the landfill open for free a few days per year or implementing a parcel tax to pay for mandatory garbage collection from every household, are ideas being tossed around by the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors and the landfill staff.
The goal is to eliminate illegal dumping and to stop individuals from letting trash pile up in their yard and home ¬Ė a problem of near epidemic proportions in Del Norte.
"Somehow, as a community, we have to figure out a way to allow those 50 percent of us below the poverty line to get rid of this stuff," said Supervisor Martha McClure yesterday during the board's public meeting.
The main cause of Del Norte's trash problem, say many, is the expense of dropping trash at the landfill or having it picked up at the curb. Too many people can't afford it.
Del Norte Disposal, the only weekly trash pick-up service here, charges $12.97 per month for one can, but requires the first three months to be paid in advance.
Taking trash to the landfill costs $3.30 for 100 pounds with a minimum charge of $6.60 per trip.
But special items cost more. A medium-sized chair can cost $14 by itself.
Yesterday's discussion was inspired by the yearly review of the landfill's operations budget.
Director Kevin Hendrick presented the budget to the Board of Supervisors.
Seeing a tie between the landfill operations and the county's blight problem, supervisor David Finigan asked about reworking the landfill budget to fund garbage pick-up for everyone.
"Maybe there's another way to allocate the funds ... Why can't that amount be allocated in a way to collect the garbage for the entire community?" Finigan said.
Supervisor Chuck Blackburn has a similar opinion noting that it must be expensive for the county and landfill staff to clean up illegally dumped appliances, furniture and other trash along the river banks and roadways.
"It costs less to open up the dump a few days a year than to clean up all these illegal dump sites," he said.
Supervisors Clyde Eller and Jack Reese who also sit on the landfill's Solid Waste Management Board, said that board is reviewing several options now.
Hendrick said a committee will assess the possibility of mandated garbage pickup, but Eller said he wanted to make it clear that he did not come up with the idea.
The landfill budget includes two pools of money for community clean up.
One pool, at $20,000, is set aside for collecting and hauling off abandoned vehicles. Hendrick said it costs about $100 to $150 to tow and deposit each abandoned vehicle.
The other pool of money, at $10,000, is set aside for cleaning up dumped trash on public streets and other public property. It is also used for disposal fees for garbage collected by the community during river, beach and park clean-up days.
When a decision will be made about mandatory garbage collection or free days at the dump is uncertain.