Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

City, county going slow on picking new Authority Board

The public board overseeing all things trash and recycling-related has not met in more than three months, and tasks left unapproved are starting to pile up.

This includes abandoned vehicles that cannot be hauled away until a new public towing contractor is chosen - a decision awaiting board action since Dec. 1.

The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority Board's three-month lapse was first blamed on board members' holiday schedules, but now slow politics can share the blame.

Until this week, the Crescent City Council and the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors had not yet appointed two members each to the Authority Board, preventing a January meeting.

Throughout 2012, the Authority Board was composed of 10 members, the entire City Council and county board, but that configuration expired Dec. 31. Judging from county supervisor comments made this week, the future of the authority itself is in question.

On Tuesday, a majority of supervisors said they do not wish to extend the existence of the authority - despite last summer's unanimous approval of an amended joint powers agreement that breathed new life into it.

The amended JPA (an agreement between Crescent City and Del Norte County that empowers the authority) seemingly settled issues of recent contention: commissioners would no longer receive stipends, authority ordinances must be passed by the City Council and Board of Supervisors beforethey are final, and the city and county must approve the authority's budget.

"We spent a year as a 10-member board and just floundered back and forth chasing our tail," said Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen at Tuesday's meeting, adding that he believed the city and county should look at other ways of managing garbage and recycling.

Supervisor David Finigan agreed, saying that perhaps solid waste functions should be run through one of the departments of the city or county.

"Needless to say, I'm on the other side of this discussion," said Supervisor Martha McClure. "The reason we have a transfer station and garbage collection is because of the JPA."

She added that withdrawing from the JPA would result in the county losing the asset that is the transfer station while leaving the county solely responsible for liabilities of the closed Crescent City Landfill.

McClure also said that garbage collection fees might shoot up in outlying parts of the county without an authority.

Hemmingsen said there are a number of possible scenarios, but he suggested city and county staff should investigate other possibilities of operating without a solid waste authority.

Ultimately, county supervisorsand staff decided they were not legally able to appoint any members since the supervisors' names were not listed as potential appointees.

And the lapse continues.

On Tuesday night, the City Council appointed Richard Enea and Rick Holley to the Authority Board.

County code enforcement officer Dave Mason said he has at least six cars waiting to be towed that he continues to receive complaints about, but his hands are tied until a new towing contract is in place. That can't happen without an Authority Board, which also serves as the board overseeing abandoned vehicles (Del Norte Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Service Authority).

"We have money to tow them; we just don't have a contractor to tow them with," Mason said.

Solid Waste Authority Director Kevin Hendrick said two landfill projects that are needed to remain in compliance with state agencies have also been put on hold.

"We've finished an RFP (request for proposals), we have contactors ready for hire, but I don't have the authority to hire," Hendrick said.

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