By Angela Evans
No one wants to be blamed for raising prices, especially Mono County. During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting in Bridgeport, D&S Waste, Mammoth Disposal, and Mono County Solid Waste Superintendent Tony Dublino argued for a nominal price increase that will affect everyone who pays for disposal service in Mono County.
Ultimately, the Board unanimously voted for the price hike.
This issue was first presented to the Board of Supervisors at the Dec. 17 meeting, with a request for a 1.7% increase in the floor rates.
As reported in the Sheet after that meeting, “A ‘floor rate’ is simply a baseline budgetary measure (like the minimum wage) implemented to protect small local businesses from predatory rates that may be implemented by larger, more resource-rich companies. The floor rate is the minimum-maximum amount that a company may charge in order for these local waste disposal businesses to stay competitive and profitable.”
Dublino began Tuesday’s presentation by explaining that the increase should actually be 1.95%, a “relatively insignificant” increase, based on September 2013 Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index reports conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Supervisor Fresko also called the increase “a minor amount,” but made sure to reiterate his sentiments from the last meeting. “I don’t like raising prices and it looks like the County is raising prices because we are approving it,” he said.
Mammoth Disposal and Bishop Waste Plant General Manager Rick Vahl and D&S Waste owners Daryl and Kevin Brown were present at the meeting. After the meeting, Vahl admitted, “I was there to answer questions. But given the nature of our franchise agreement, I didn’t think there would be as many. The information has never been asked for in the past.”
This price increase is so standard to the industry that Kevin Brown said, “I just can’t believe this. It’s a moot point to me.” D&S, located in Yerrington, Nevada, removed 3,326 tons of waste from Mono County last year, only receiving 2% of the profit due to what the County already takes in landfill fees. The Browns argued that if it wasn’t for the floor rates, “no one would be picking up garbage in Mono County. It’s too expensive.”
When asked about this later, Daryl Brown said, “for what we pay Mono County in landfill fees, we could build a transfer station and transport the garbage to Lockwood Regional Landfill outside of Reno for less.”
The disposal companies pay $74 per ton of garbage they dump in Mono County.
Vahl petitioned the Board based on Mammoth Disposal’s economic situation. Their parts and materials expenses have increased by 7%, mostly because of new regulations on their trucks by California Air Resources Board. He also said they “took a pretty hard hit” as their employee insurance expenses increased 21%. Vahl concluded his remarks by stating that “Mammoth Disposal’s goal is to provide safe and reliable service to Mono County and the CPI/PPI increase will help with that.”
The Supervisors were not opposed to the 1.95% increase, but requested the disposal companies communicate to their customers that it “is not related to any increases caused by Mono County.” Superintendent Dublino said, “upon signing these amendments there is trust [that] the statement will be put on bills” from D&S and Mammoth Disposal.
Kevin Brown affirmed that D&S Disposal will put the new language on their bills. “It’s standard language in the garbage industry,” he said. “It’s fine if it gets blamed on us; we have to do it.”
In an effort to communicate with their clients and get the message out about the increase, the previous statement discussed in the meeting on Dec. 17 was already distributed with Mammoth Disposal’s invoices.
Vahl explained that his company went too far by including it before a Board resolution had been passed. He apologized for the oversight and also affirmed that Mammoth Disposal will put the new agreed upon language on their bills in the future.
The Board then passed the amendment to the Franchise Agreements with D&S Waste Removal, Inc. and Mammoth Disposal, Inc. for the price increase and the accompanying statement 5-0.
After the meeting, Daryl Brown laughed and said, “I get a kick out of how the County tries to get out of this. It’s turned into politics instead of what’s good for my customers and the taxpayers.”