Trash dump fee hike to move forward
Increase delayed until Jan. 1
Tulare County Supervisors did not give cities and independent trash haulers what they wanted, but they did agree to delay an increase in dumping fees at county landfills until Jan. 1, 2013.
County officials brought back to the board their proposal to increase dumping fees for cities and haulers by $3 a ton — to $34 — as one more measure to help the county dig out of a $5 million hole in its landfill budget.
The supervisors agreed on a 3-2 vote to move back the increase to Jan. 1 to give cities and haulers more time to adjust their fees if they want. The county first proposed on Aug. 28 hiking those fees on Oct. 1 and on Tuesday suggested that be moved back to Dec. 1.
“I think we should stay at three (dollars),” said Supervisor Steven Worthley in response to a suggestion the county consider a tiered approach, raising the fee $1.50 a ton now and then look at it again in June of 2013. That suggestion was made by Board Chairman Allen Ishida and was supported by Supervisor Pete Vander Poel.
However, the proposed hike will help the county by generating another $1.8 million annually in revenue for the department that is out of whack budget-wise. That came to light at the Aug. 28 meeting when county CAO Jean Rousseau told the board someone had been asleep at the wheel and let revenues slip below expenses in the solid waste division. At the August meeting, the board did raise dump fees for individuals, closed down several small transfer stations including several in the foothills, and reduced days at the Teapot Dome landfill from six to three days a week, an action opposed by the City of Porterville that uses that landfill. Those actions shave about $3 million off of the deficit.
Porterville Vice Mayor Pete McCracken spoke at the August meeting, telling the board the landfill partial closure and the fee hike would cost the city $200,000 annually. He sought more time for the city to come up with ways to make necessary adjustments.
On Tuesday, McCracken said the two actions will force the city to explore other options than using county landfills.
Porterville City Manager John Lollis said the matter will be on Tuesday’s city council agenda. He said they have not determined if a residential rate hike will be needed or how much that might be.
He was pleased the county did delay the increase until January, saying the city did not get much notice of the county’s intentions prior to the Aug. 28 meeting.
Jim Vagim, representing Sunset Waste, basically told the supervisors the same story. Sunset services four cities, including Lindsay, and Vagim said it will look at other sites to take its trash.
One suggestion was to actually lower dumping fees with the belief that lower the fees would increase the amount of garbage dumped and would increase revenues. “It doesn’t appear there is sufficient waste available to lower dumping fees,” answered Denise Akins, interim solid waste manager.
Ishida said one of the problems the county has encountered is that because of efforts to recycle trash, there is not as much of it going to the landfills. “We are not alone. Other counties face similar issues because there’s less tonnage going into the landfills. This is typical for going green.”
Officials also pointed out that the trash dumping fees for cities and haulers have not been raised since 1994.