Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

The board of the public district overseeing solid waste and recycling in Del Norte County chose Mary Wilson as its recommended public member Tuesday.

The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority heard from seven applicants for the position, ranking each after asking a few questions.

Ray Martell, who has an extensive solid waste management background, tied for first place in the rankings with Mary Wilson, owner of Ocean World, who has become involved with local solid waste issues through her membership on the Del Norte Solid Waste Task Force in the past 18 months.

County Supervisor and authority board member Roger Gitlin nominated Wilson, who won the appointment on a 3-1 vote, with City Councilman and board member Rick Holley dissenting. Wilson's appointment will still have to be voted upon by the Crescent City Council and the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

When asked what is "the most pressing issue" regarding solid waste management, Wilson said maintaining the current contract with the landfill near Medford, as that will keep costs low.

Controlling garbage costs proved pertinent since at the same meeting the authority board approved increasing the rates charged at the transfer station and for garbage and recycling collection service. The rate increases, based on the consumer price index, were requested by Hambro/ Waste Solutions Group (operator of the transfer station) and Recology Del Norte (garbage collection company). The increases are written into the contracts that each company has with the authority.

Rates will rise 21-81 cents more per month for residential collection, and 44 cents to $15 more per month for commercial collection. The transfer station rates will rise $2.30 per ton. All rate increases are effective July 1.

Authority board members once again mused on whether or not breaking franchise contracts with Hambro/ WSG or Recology Del Norte could be the answer to lowering prices for garbage collection.

Authority staff and previous board members have long maintained that rates increases result from the high costs of trucking garbage to a landfill in Oregon after the Crescent City landfill was closed in 2005.

Replacing the local landfill with the Del Norte County transfer station is what some board members have said was the only intended purpose for the Solid Waste Management Authority. Since that task is complete, they advocate for the authority's dissolution.

The authority was created through a "joint powers agreement" between the city and county. During Tuesday's meeting, board members once again requested a clearer explanation as to what would happen if the city and county decided to mutually withdraw from the JPA or if one member chose to withdraw unilaterally.

The discussion arose from a proposal to hire a third-party private consultant to conduct an independent assessment of the authority and the possibility of dissolving the JPA and/or privatizing the authority's work.

County Supervisor and authority board member Mike Sullivan said what he had in mind for the agenda was not hiring a consultant, but that "staff prepare a request for proposal for the privatization of solid waste (management in the county) with the possible sale of the transfer station included in that."

Sullivan also asked legal counsel to explore what the process would be for the city and/or county to withdraw mutually or unilaterally from the JPA. Authority attorney Martha Rice said she could not provide a legal opinion on the effect on assets and liabilities since her office also represents Crescent City and that could create a conflict of interest.

The county Board of Supervisors has met in closed session four times this year to discuss the status of the authority.

Possible dissolution or privatization of the authority is expected to be a big part of the city-county joint meeting in May.

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