County should phase in trash rate increases
After taking two actions to negate a $5 million shortfall in its solid waste division’s operating budget, Tulare County Supervisors put off until Sept. 11 a decision to increase dumping fees.
Supervisors were told of the deficit during Tuesday’s meeting and while they agreed to close the Teapot Dome landfill three days a week and require licensed haulers to take all their refuse to county landfills, they hesitated on the dumping fee increase. The board did approve other fees for those utilizing the county landfills and those new fees are pending review.
The board held off after Porterville Vice Mayor Pete McCracken told them the city would like some time in case it will need to raise its rates. Porterville is taking a double hit because right now it hauls refuse to the Teapot Dome landfill on the three days that landfill will be closed. That will force the city to haul its refuse to the Woodville landfill, which McCracken said will cost an additional $100,000 a year. The reduction in days of the Teapot Dome landfill goes into effect Oct. 1.
The proposed $3 increase in the per ton dumping fee will cost the city another $100,000.
The double whammy is not easy for the city to handle and we are sure other cities will find themselves in a similar position. We propose the county phase in the increase over two years. We understand that does not make up for the funding shortfall in the county as quickly as officials want, but it gives cities time to adjust their rates, as well as the local licensed haulers.
The county, admittedly, dropped the ball on its solid waste division and allowed the deficit to grow so large. The last rate increase was in 1994.
However, the county should not act so quickly. It seems only fair, since the deficit is no one’s fault but the county’s, that the fee hike be phased in with $1.50 added this year and maybe $1.50 next year, instead of $3 all at once.