Recent fretting over the red ink that’s stained Mono’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund isn’t confined to just Mono county. Inyo reportedly has similar issues with its own Solid Waste program, leading to a recent survey begun earlier this year to gather public input on landfill operations, fees and options to bring it to solvency.
Inyo County officials are open to ideas that will help them close a nearly $600,000 annual operating deficit in the Integrated Waste Management Program, which operates the county’s five landfills and four waste transfer stations. The program’s total budget for the current fiscal year 2010-11 is $2.5 million, and the shortfall is currently being covered using General Fund money, which results in funding shortages for other programs and services.
“There’s probably not a single action that will close the deficit,” said Chuck Hamilton, Deputy County Administrator and Waste Management program head. The deficit has been blamed on stricter state and federal landfill regulations that outstripped revenue generated by a portion of the county sales tax dedicated to solid waste operation, and a decline in fees paid by commercial waste haulers and individual disposal facility users. “It will most likely take a combination of fee increases and reducing the hours of operation at some disposal sites to put the program’s budget back in the black,” Hamilton said.
Basically the same options Mono County’s Solid Waste Task Force, including tipping fee adjustments and changes in levels of service, including days and hours of operation.
About the only single action that could provide full funding for the Sold Waste program would be to increase the current County Sales Tax by half a percent (0.5) to 9.25%. Such a move would, however, require voter approval. Voters approved a one-half-percent sales tax dedicated to Solid Waste in 1988. By 2002, the program was already facing deficit spending, as costs rose to comply with a complex set of state and federal regulations.
The last of three public meetings will take place in Bishop this coming Wednesday, March 16, in Bishop City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Staff will outline the current budget situation, including revenue sources and shortfalls, a summary of expenses and numerous options that would increase revenue or reduce costs.
Residents can complete the survey at www.inyocountysolidwaste.com and make additional comments or suggestions. Comments and ideas can also be mailed to Inyo County Solid Waste, 163 May St., Bishop CA 93514.