Letters to the Editor May 21, 2013

Written by Del Norte Triplicate Readers May 22, 2013 09:54 am

Why spend more on question that's answered?

There is movement afoot to dissolve the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority despite public sentiment in favor of the agency and despite county officials being unable to find any substantial way to improve the agency after two years of searching.

The authority is a local public entity created to monitor the local landfill (now closed, and for good reason) and to handle the county’s trash flow. It is highly efficient, keeping much of our garbage from ever reaching a landfill in the first place.

Run by living-wage employees under public scrutiny at no cost to the taxpayer, the authority contributes to the economic development of the county, contracting with multiple local businesses.

Personally, I am grateful for their good work. The endless waste of our consumer society is a serious environmental problem, affecting water quality and hence, public health. The best way to manage public health is through public oversight and the authority does that well.

Business owners producing large volumes of rubbish feel burdened by fees. But frankly, so does everyone else. That’s the point! People should have to pay to pollute and, despite the formality that it’s legal, dumping in a landfill is still pollution.

Commercial pickup rates proportionate to volume will create the incentive to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Consequently, businesses that provide their services with minimal waste will be rewarded. Who wouldn’t want that?

Imagine a future Del Norte where there isn’t a single restaurant using Styrofoam to-go containers or where fry shacks can sell used cooking oil to a local biodiesel market.

At worst, dissolution would amount to a transfer of the wealth already invested in the recovery station and would leave taxpayers with the liability. At best, it’s unlikely that any interested for-profit entity would voluntarily internalize the landfill costs.

The burden of management will weigh on city and county governments, increasing expenses. The young families of this county will be left with the long-term burden of cleaning up the previous generation’s waste. Users will likely be stuck with monopoly prices for waste disposal and the public’s ability to pay down the debt and monitor the landfill will be curtailed. 

Without evidence that another arrangement would benefit the public more, and without a clear plan of what to do if dissolution should take place, why in the world would elected officials spend any more money investigating this idea? 

Philip Mancus, Crescent City

If authority is dissolved, we get stuck with loan, liability

At a recent meeting, county Supervisor Roger Gitlin referred to Kevin Hendrick’s qualities as “at the zenith level.” So, I can’t figure out why the county supervisors want to dissolve the Solid Waste Management Authority, of which Mr. Hendrick is the director.

If the authority is dissolved, the public, you and I, get stuck with the public loan that funded the construction of the transfer station, because it cannot be transferred to a private entity. In addition, the public, you and I, get stuck with the $2.6 million liability for the closed landfill. It will go onto the county’s books. Ouch!

We won’t see our garbage collection rates go down, because the long-term contracts are already in place with private companies Hambro and Recology. Our garbage collection is already privatized. It sounds like a bank robbery where some bandit makes off with the profits, while you and I get stuck holding millions of dollars of debt.

Next, they’ll want to raise our taxes to pay for it!

Genevieve Bannie, Crescent City