Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

The local public agency that oversees trash and recycling issues has been a source of contention in Del Norte County for years, with accusations of fiscal mismanagement on one side and claims of witch-hunts based on dislike of environmental politics on the other.

There have been a number of committees formed to investigate how the agency might function better, with possible privatization often floated.

A consulting group that was recently hired for $33,460 to assess the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority met with Authority Board members this week, introduced the project team, and set a day when the consultant will meet with the public: 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 28.

"We're very excited to be part of this," said William Schoen, principal with R3 Consulting Group, based in Roseville. "We understand that it's a critical issue that you've been dealing with for a long time, so it's our objective to get you to a point where you can make a decision on this and move forward onto other things."

R3 Consulting Group is a Roseville-based solid waste management consulting firm established in 2002 that exclusively works for municipal agencies responsible for solid waste management.

The firm is being asked to evaluate and make recommendations on staffing, day-to-day operations, the director position, the organizational structure of the joint powers authority and possible alternatives to the JPA.

The alternatives should not beviewed as limited to privatization or the status quo, said Authority Board member Mary Wilson, as there might be options in between.

"They might come up with something that we haven't thought about. There might be some scenarios or alternatives that are a combination of partial privatization while keeping the authority, and I just wanted to clarify that publicly," Wilson said.

When asked if R3 Consulting Group had recommended privatization measures for solid waste municipal agencies that they assessed in the past, Schoen said it was not that common.

Schoen said that with the transfer station being operated by Hambro/Waste Solutions Group, a private company, and trash collections handled by Recology Del Norte, also a private company, "there really isn't much left to privatize."

Hazardous waste change

As of Monday, the Del Norte County transfer station is collecting all house paints, lacquers, varnishes, metal coatings, and rust preventives.

"Staff anticipates this will dramatically increase the convenience to our customers who want to dispose oil-based paints and stains, as these materials had previously only been accepted during our annual household hazardous waste collection event in September," according to the director's report.

"It's an excellent example of successful rollout of product stewardship programs largely fostered by ourrelationship with the California Product Stewardship Council, who's been active on a statewide level for that," said Tedd Ward, the authority's acting director/program manager.

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