The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority has been in a state of flux for years, with some elected officials calling for an overhaul of the public agency that oversees all things garbage and recycling-related in the county.
To put some of the governance structure questions to rest, the authority board hired a consultant to assess the agency for $33,000, and during Wednesday’s 3:30 p.m. meeting at the Flynn Center, the authority board will offer input and ask questions about the consultant’s preliminary report.
Authority staff noted that R3 Consulting Group’s report came to some positive conclusions:
The solid waste authority, “as a single Joint Powers Authority serving both Del Norte County and the city of Crescent City, is the most efficient entity for managing solid waste related functions in Del Norte County,” the staff report said.
But R3’s report said that for that to remain true “appropriate adjustments” must be made to management and administrative staffing levels, including combining the authority executive director and program manager into one single private sector position.
Authority staff criticized the draft report for comparing the Del Norte Solid Waste Authority with public agencies that are much different than it to justify R3’s recommendations for staff cuts.
“Having served as Authority Treasurer/Controller for over twenty years,” wrote Richard Taylor in his treasurer’s report, “in my opinion the creation of a single Management Analyst position to replace the ‘2.5 full time equivalent administrative staff positions’ would reduce the number of cash controls in place and would increase the potential for errors and/or theft in accounting for Authority revenues and tracking budgets and expenses.”
Taylor’s report goes on to say that R3’s recommendations violate the Generally Accepted Accounting Standards for separation of duties, and “I generally do not support this public agency violating these standards.”
In a letter to R3 responding to the report, Martha Rice, the authority’s legal counsel, questioned if all of R3’s recommendations were legal, including contracting out the scale house staffing to the private sector.
A lawsuit brought by city employees against the city of Costa Mesa set case law restricting municipal agencies (including the Del Norte solid waste authority) from contracting out basic services.
Rice highlighted that since the transfer station was built using outstanding tax-exempt bonds, the public facility cannot be used to turn a profit for a private company, which would be the case if the authority contracted out the scale house/gate attendant.
Rice said it would be possible for a private company to run the gate attendant services, but it would have to be for a fixed periodic fee, based on the consumer price index or a similar standard.
Other positive notes in the draft report include:
• There are no suggestions for operational improvements at the Del Norte County Transfer Station, which is well run and well maintained by Hambro/WSG.
• “Authority staff are meeting all regulatory requirements in a timely and comprehensive manner,” the report said.
• “Current authority staff has experience and expertise to effectively handle required solid waste management function,” the report said.
To see a full copy of the draft report, download the Mar. 12 authority agenda from recycledelnorte.ca.gov.