Stop the BS! Garbage Privitizing Will Pick Our Pockets For Years To Come


Public Letter from Supes Colfax and Smith

[Pure and simple. If a private company says they can do it cheaper and better than the county, then they are either lying, or we have a failure of county government. -DS]

In summary, we urge the public to insist on a cost benefit analysis of this contract, including the need for a 14 year extension to three hauling contracts. Privatization at any cost is not in the public interest, does not provide consumer protection and will cost residents needlessly for years to come.

On August 17, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will vote to turn five county transfer stations over to a private company. If this contract is approved many county residents will pay more for curbside collection and all residents will see self-haul rates rise at five previously operated county sites. This proposal is harmful, unnecessary and will permanently dismantle a network of transfer stations available to County residents for decades. We feel compelled to alert the public to how their pockets are about to be picked.

We have no philosophical objection to privatization of government work if it can be proven that it saves money and preserves service. But this deal is so bad that it can only be described as a give-away. It imposes indefensible costs on thousands of Mendocino County citizens without any justification.

The proposed deal negotiated by Supervisors McCowen and Pinches would award four no-bid contracts, 14 years long, without competitive bidding, to Solid Wastes of Willits. The corporation would take over operation of 5 county transfer stations–Laytonville, Potter Valley, Boonville, Albion and South Coast–and impose an immediate gate fee increase from $25 per cubic yard to $29. And every year into the future, the company can increase the gate fee based on a variety of factors including cost of living and cost of fuel.
As if that benefit isn’t enough, this deal would give Solid Wastes of Willits a no-bid extension of its 3 curbside franchise collection contracts, covering 2400 customers in South Coast, Anderson Valley, and North County, so that the exclusive franchise contracts all run for another 14 years.

In normal government practice, a no-bid franchise contract extension is only granted if the hauler gives major concessions in rates or other financial benefits. But this deal is just the opposite. Solid Wastes of Willits would get an immediate 2% increase in all its curbside rates, plus another upward rate adjustment in only 4 months.

Accordingly, curbside trash customers who never even use the transfer stations would therefore be forced to pay even higher rates than they now do in order to give Solid Wastes of Willits an unjustified pay-off.

It is being argued this deal will ensure that the County will no longer need to subsidize the transfer stations with General Fund monies. There is a long-standing policy to subsidize these remote sites in order to keep the gate fees low, and we can no longer afford such subsidies. But financial analysis provided by staff shows that the County can continue to operate these transfer stations without any subsidy provided that the gate fee is increased but to a level lower than the $29 per cubic yard demanded by Solid Wastes of Willits. So there is no justification for this deal except to carry out Supervisor Pinches and McCowen’s preconceived notion that privatization must happen.

In June the City of Fort Bragg rejected the privatization contract because of its impact on the Caspar Transfer Station, co-owned with the County. We deplore the subsequent action of the Board of Supervisors majority to retaliate against Fort Bragg by issuing a notice of termination for the Caspar Joint Powers Agreement, which has been in place for 33 years. Going forward, we will do everything we can to repair the damage of this precipitous action so that a rational public policy can be preserved to provide disposal service at the best possible price in the Northern coastal area.

In summary, we urge the public to insist on a cost benefit analysis of this contract, including the need for a 14 year extension to three hauling contracts. Privatization at any cost is not in the public interest, does not provide consumer protection and will cost residents needlessly for years to come.
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One Comment

Time to turn the Sups door step into an impromptu transfer station?

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