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Moves to reform authority continue

The years-long debate on how to modify, if at all, the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority continues to plod along, now via a subcommittee of city, county and authority officials and the private companies with exclusive contracts to collect and dispose of Del Norte’s trash.

The governing board of the authority, a public agency that oversees the county’s garbage and recycling issues, including maintaining and monitoring the closed Crescent City Landfill, will meet at 3:30 p.m. today in the Flynn Administrative Center.

The board plans to discuss what happened at the closed-door subcommittee meeting, which included county Supervisor Roger Gitlin  saying he envisioned selling the Del Norte County Transfer Station to a private company, according to draft  meeting minutes.

A private company would then pay property taxes on the transfer station land and the county would continue to maintain and be responsible for the landfill, Gitlin said, according to the minutes.

The cost of paying off the financing used to build the transfer station is roughly
$2.9 million, as recently determined by the authority’s legal counsel.

Authority director Kevin Hendrick indicated at the meeting that this cost might be borne by ratepayers, according to the minutes.

Authority attorney Martha Rice said that due to recent case law in Costa Mesa, it may be illegal for the authority’s public employee positions to become private jobs, according to the minutes.

During the meeting, the heads of city and county government were asked if they could absorb  authority employees into their budget.  They said no.  

The refuse wrangle has largely revolved around the cost at the transfer station, which increased substantially in 2011 when new contracts with Hambro/ Waste Solutions Group — which operates the transfer station and hauls trash to Oregon — and Recology Del Norte, which collects garbage, went into effect.

Tommy Sparrow, general manager of Recology Del Norte, “said it is possible to haul wastes out of the county cheaper than to dispose at the DNC transfer station,” according to the meeting minutes.

In a phone interview, Sparrow said when he collects Pelican Bay State Prison’s wastewater waste, he hauls it to the Curry County transfer station, because it’s cheaper and Del Norte’s transfer station doesn’t take that type of waste.

When Recology’s new contract required him to bring the prison’s regular trash to Del Norte, Sparrow said he had to increase the rates for the prison by at least 27 percent.

Curry County Transfer Station charges by the cubic yard since it does not use a scale, so Del Norte Solid Waste Authority staff converted the rates using an average pounds per cubic yard for comparison, which showed the Del Norte station to still be the cheapest option among neighboring counties to the north and south.

Of the $140.46 it costs per ton at the Del Norte transfer station starting July 1, $93.46 goes to Hambro to dispose of the trash and $47 goes to the authority, which is responsible for hazardous waste services, contract oversight, reporting to the state and landfill maintenance, a cost that tops $200,000 annually, according to meeting minutes.

If that $47 per ton wasn’t collected by the authority, there would  probably be a reduction in collection fees, Sparrow said by phone.

“Tom Sparrow said he was in no way of supporting the dissolution of the authority, but that he wants to make the system better,” according to draft meeting minutes.

Executives of Hambro and Recology Del Norte agreed there needs to be some government oversight of their contracts, according to meeting minutes.

Andy Larson, who is on the Solid Waste Task Force, a public advisory group, was interested in how things could be done cheaper and how Colusa County meets state requirements without a joint powers authority.

“Director Hendrick said he was also interested in ideas to reduce costs, but such suggestions need to be based on real examples,” the minutes said.

Reach Adam Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 


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