After an entire year of operating under a bloated 10-member governing board, the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority conducted its first meeting under a new board Tuesday.
Although the 10-member board (consisting of all Crescent City Council members and Del Norte County supervisors) ended at the close of 2012, a board with new members had not met until Tuesday due to the county supervisors failing to appoint two new members.
During Tuesday’s meeting, new Solid Waste Authority Board member and county Supervisor Roger Gitlin questioned the legality of a board meeting that was held in February with the city’s newly appointed members and county Supervisor Martha McClure, who was an appointed member of the Authority Board before the 10-member panel.
“I have serious issues of the validity of the last meeting,” said Gitlin. He asked authority attorney Martha Rice to explain the reasoning behind her legal determination for the February meeting.
“For me the legal question, once you have appointed board members, is: Were those board members ever removed or un-appointed? Was there something that took them off the board?” Rice said. “After the new year, when the city appointed two new members and an alternate, that took care of the city side. The county did not appoint new members, so the question became what was the status of the current, or some may consider former county members.”
After reviewing the amendment that created the 10-member board and reviewing the amended joint powers agreement, Rice said she determined that there was nothing that removes any of the board members appointed before the 10-member board. Leslie McNamer, who was voted out of her supervisor position, could no longer serve, but McClure could still represent the county on the Authority Board, Rice said.
County supervisor and Authority Board member Michael Sullivan said it was an issue of protocol. He pointed out that he, as chairman of the Board of Supervisors, was not contacted and neither was Gerry Hemmingsen, who was the former alternate, about the February meeting.
Sullivan also asked why, if the meeting was legal, were the items passed at that meeting back on Tuesday’s agenda. Rice responded that it was because some people disagreed with her legal opinion, that she recommended passing the items again to address the concern.
City Councilman and Authority Board member Rick Holley asked that the board move forward and approve the minutes of the February meeting, which served as the catalyst of the discussion.
“Based upon that lack of any kind of illegality, it seems that we need to move forward to approve the minutes now because I think they accurately reflect what occurred at that meeting,” Holley said.
That motion did not receive the necessary three votes after Gitlin and Sullivan abstained.
Next up was a proposed 5-percent pay increase for Authority Director Kevin Hendrick based on 20 years of service and a recent satisfactory performance evaluation.
Rice said that longevity increases are not in Hendrick’s contract, but that merit and cost of living increases are up to the discretion of the board. Rice also referenced a memorandum of understanding “that states that the authority will follow county personnel policies and procedures,” Rice said.
“Department heads as well as elected officials have taken a 13 percent reduction in pay over the last three years and that has not happened at the Solid Waste Authority,” Sullivan said. “That’s been a county policy, so we’re cherry-picking which policies within the county we are going to mirror at solid waste.”
“This is not a question of Mr. Hendrick’s qualities; they are at the zenith level. I just think this is not the time to discuss a 5-percent raise,” Gitlin said.
City Councilman and Authority Board member Rich Enea said that after 30 years of public service, longevity increases should not be considered raises.
Enea and Holley voted to approve Hendrick’s pay increase, but the motion failed after Gitlin and Sullivan dissented.
After getting through the lengthy discussion of consent agenda items, approving meeting minutes and Hendrick’s longevity increase, the Authority Board listened to a presentation from authority program manager Tedd Ward.
Ward explained how the authority plans to prove to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board that the closed Crescent City Landfill slopes away from residential wells, and therefore should not be classified at the highest threat and complexity level.
The Authority Board approved a contract to conduct a five-year review of the landfill and analyze the amount of gas that escapes from landfill vents. Authority staff members said they hope to be able to prove that there is less than 450,000 tons of garbage at the landfill, which would require the authority to conduct less investigation of landfill conditions.
The board, in its capacity as the Del Norte Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Authority, approved a contract for towing vehicles with Northcrest Automotive.
Authority Board members also asked the staff to determine how much it would cost for the scale at the transfer station to be certified for weighing commercial trucks.
The authority is looking for applications for a member of the public to sit on the Authority Board.