On an annual basis, the Mono County Board of Supervisors must renew the Mono County Solid Waste Fee Program prior to the start of the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. So at Tuesday’s regular Board meeting held in Mammoth, Solid Waste Superintendent Tony Dublino brought the item before the Board for review and resolution.
The program allows the County to assess fees on the unincorporated land in the County. It also includes an agreement with the Town Council for the collection of these fees within incorporated Mammoth Lakes.
The base fee for this parcel tax is $60 and Dublino did not propose any increases at Tuesday’s meeting. He just asked that Board approve continuing the program at status quo.
“I don’t see the Town opting out before July 1, so the program would remain in place for another year,” Dublino said.
Supervisor Tim Fesko reiterated an idea that Supervisor Fred Stump had suggested a few months back.
“It needs to be $60 per year across the Board,” Fesko said, referring to some second homeowners and other exceptions throughout the County that have lower fees because they are not full-time residents or have other caveats.
“We need to address this scale and bring it back in the future,” Fesko added. “We should at least get rid of the one-half and one-quarter residency [discounts] and just have an across-the-board fee.”
While Supervisor Larry Johnston agreed that Fesko had some good points, he felt the Board should go ahead with the program as is to keep things rolling and then revisit the ideas in the future.
However, the process of reviewing and changing fees could be lengthy, as Mono County Assistant County Counsel Stacey Simon had explained to the Board in the past and again on Tuesday.
“Raising fees would have to go to a vote because it is a Prop 218 procedure,” Simon said. “It’s a property-related fee, which is why it is such a process.”
According to www.californiataxdata.com, “In November 1996, California voters passed Proposition 218, the ‘Right to Vote on Taxes Act.’ This constitutional amendment protects taxpayers by limiting the methods by which local governments can create or increase taxes, fees and charges without taxpayer consent. Proposition 218 requires voter approval prior to imposition or increase of general taxes, assessments, and certain user fees.”
“Just because it’s a complex process, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be explored,” Supervisor Stump said.
Fesko felt there could be ways around having to go through a long Prop 218 process that could be explored as well.
Supervisor Johnston, however, brought the group back on point. “It is extremely important to get today’s item approved so we can move forward with solid waste issues and the Town.”
Dublino agreed and added, “We can discuss what else we can do without disturbing the existing fees.”
The Board did make some alterations in the resolution related to timeframes, but otherwise unanimously approved the resolution to continue the program as is.
The Board also asked Dublino to look into negotiating a longer-term deal with the Town going forward.
“I would like to get the Town to agree to a 5-10 year agreement,” Fesko said. “And then we should bring this back for discussion at the time of that agreement.”
In other County/Town news, the two agencies reported on Tuesday that they have worked out a short-term emergency services agreement for the County to help the Town start solving its Information Technology (IT) problems.
“We are now beginning to work on a long-term services contract and we hope to bring the new CAO into the process [see “Mono County announces Jim Leddy as new CAO],” said County Counsel Marshall Rudolph.
Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez thanked the Supervisors and the County for putting the short-term agreement so quickly, and assured the Board that in terms of solid waste issues, she was “going to do what it takes to move this forward.”
Supervisors Tim Alpers commented that two Town employees had already come up to him and thanked him for the County’s help with the IT issues.
“Technology going down drives people crazy,” Alpers said.