There are certain things which people just don’t feel like they should pay for.
These things generally fall under the category of public services.
The water’s supposed to pour out of the tap, the crap’s supposed to whisk down the toilet, the garbage is supposed to get taken off to some distant, secret site where it is buried and forgotten … and none of this is supposed to cost anybody anything.
Now with other services, like television for example, the private sector’s managed to get people to pay more and more for that over time – while still maintaining the old revenue model. So they get you twice. They charge you for cable or satellite AND they still try to make you sit through the commercials.
Can you imagine having to sit through three minutes of commercials before you were permitted to flush the toilet?
So how much of the resistance to the Town’s plans to build a MRF (Materials Recycling Facility) in the Industrial Park is based on legitimate concerns and grievances, and how much is based on the general belief that garbage is other people’s problem, to be taken care of in someone else’s neighborhood, at minimal cost?
Here is the outline of the plan forged by the Town and Mammoth Disposal (Waste Connections) nearly four years ago.
*Yes, four years ago. This plan has been published and available to all for four years. It is not a secret plan hatched in a recently held closed session meeting.
According to the waste collection franchise agreement “The Town and Franchise mutually agree that an improvement and expansion of the transfer station is needed.
“The Town plans to finance, construct and finally own all project improvements.”
The Town planned to buy the parcel adjacent to Mammoth Disposal’s two acres and lease the parcel back to Mammoth Disposal until which time it could buy out Mammoth Disposal’s property. The Town’s stated goal is to become its own garbage operator.
Mammoth Disposal’s Pat Fenton estimates that the cost of building a basic MRF, including land acquisition, is about $5 million. Construction of the MRF would facilitate the Town’s compliance with increasingly rigid state and federal recycling standards. It would also reduce the amount of waste the Town would ship to a landfill.
Mammoth Disposal currently rents commercial space from Sam Walker and partners at the rate of $10,000/month. This space is used for recycling operations as well as two maintenance bays. Fenton says it is not efficient to have recycle operations housed at a separate facility up the street. A land purchase would eliminate the need for such a lease.
To pay for the project, Fenton suggested the Town would have to hike disposal rates 13% a year for three years, or a total of about 40%. After that, he estimates the Town would only need to increase rates in line with inflation.
Of the MRF, Fenton says the facility, to be housed inside a 75’ x 170’ structure, would not be a Cadillac. “We’re building a LeSabre, or a Pinto.” He says the building would be totally enclosed and soundproofed and would face away from the Trails neighborhood.
Councilman John Eastman, who lives in the Trails, says that citizen Lisa Isaacs and Mono County Supervisor Larry Johnston “have put fear in the minds of Trails homeowners … you have a solid waste treatment facility [located] just across the street. Who’s complained about that?”
Eastman, who is supportive of consolidating all of Mammoth’s trash and recycle operations at the existing location, lamented the Town’s lack of control over the tipping fees currently charged by Mono County at Benton Crossing Landfill.
“Why would we continue to live at their whim?” he asked rhetorically. “Let’s solve our own problem … people can always think of a reason not to do something, but leaders get things done, and it’s time for us to be responsible for our own trash.”
Eastman said closing down Benton landfill is going to be an expensive proposition, so he’d rather not get sucked into paying for the bulk of it.
Isaacs, as one might imagine, has a contrary view.
She told The Sheet in a recent interview, “Don’t believe anything they say … they will do whatever it takes [to push the MRF deal through].”
She said that when the State’s recycle standards are raised in 2020, that the whole region will have to use this MRF, that Mammoth will become a garbage hub. Her theory is that the MRF is the Trojan Horse. That once you have the MRF, the next thing you know, they’ll want to turn Mammoth into a long-haul garbage transfer station. She envisions traffic, stink and noise – all counter to the image Mammoth wishes to project to its guests. She believes the waste and recycling problem should be solved regionally, and that the site for a long-haul waste transfer facility should not be within Town limits.
“Talking about things for a long time is not a reason to do things. That’s illogical. Times have changed,” she said.