The following news release from Tulare County spokesman Jed Chernabaeff was received by KMPH.com on Wednesday, August 29, 2012:
Various measures were approved on Tuesday by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to help bridge a projected $5.1 million deficit to the County's Solid Waste Enterprise Fund for Fiscal Year 2012-13.
Solid Waste staff reported that the approved measures - the closure of four transfer stations and reducing operating days at the Teapot Dome Landfill, and requiring licensed refuse haulers to deliver waste to a landfill within the County - would cover $1.5 million of the projected deficit. The transfer station closures and reduced operating hours will go into effect November 1, 2012. Requiring licensed refuse haulers to deliver waste to a landfill within the County will go into effect October 1, 2012.
A third measure, a landfill fee overhaul, was also approved pending review by the Tulare County Auditor-Controller. More than 20 fees are subject to review and approval. In addition, a decision on one fee increase, a $3 per ton tipping fee on general refuse, was delayed until the September 11, 2012 Board of Supervisors meeting to allow Solid Waste staff time to meet with incorporated cities and contracted solid waste collectors to discuss future impacts. Prior to Tuesday, fee increases at landfills had not been changed since 1994. Upon review, the approved landfill fees would go into effect October 1, 2012.
Staff estimates that the landfill fee overall measure would cover $3.1 million of the projected deficit. The remainder of the deficit - $500,000 - has been covered by measures staff put in place in the past few months, which included eliminating seven full time vacant positions, postponing equipment purchases, and reducing service contracts. Those measures saved $800,000.
Tulare County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau said the projected operating deficit to the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund can be attributed to dated landfill fees, a reduction in material received due to recycling requirements, low interest rates, and a reduction in reserves that earn interest.
"We will need to monitor the impacts of these changes to the Solid Waste Fund to determine if additional changes are necessary," Rousseau said. "That may include additional cuts, adjusting fees or hours of operations, or any other measure that will ensure this system is running in the black."
The Solid Waste division is operated as an enterprise fund within the Tulare County Resource Management Agency, whose largest services include public works and planning. Enterprise funds are used for services provided to the public through user charges, which should cover 100 percent of the cost through no subsidy from the County.
Over the past five years, Solid Waste Enterprise Fund cash was depleted due to operating inefficiencies and capital projects to fund necessary landfill expansion projects. The approved measures will begin to bridge the deficit and restore the reserves for future landfill capacity.
"During the process of revamping the Resource Management Agency, a number of inefficiencies were identified and corrective actions were taken internally and by the Board of Supervisors," Rousseau said. "The inefficiencies identified within the Solid Waste division should have been addressed earlier."