Mammoth Disposal appeared before Mammoth Lakes Town Council Wednesday to officially accept a proposed rate structure for the current franchise agreement related to waste disposal.
The six-year deal goes into effect January 1, 2021 and does not come without controversy calling for an annual 5.6% increase.
This has clearly upset some people in Mammoth Lakes. Five letters were submitted in opposition of the rate increases, three of which were written by second homeowners.
Loren Calahan, a second homeowner, wrote, “As a long time 2nd homeowner in Mammoth Lakes, I feel that I already pay my fair share for the solid waste service that I rarely use.”
Gene Mecherikoff, also a second homeowner, wrote “ … My question is: why does one who owns a vacation home have to pay as much as a full- time resident when, in fact, the usage of the home is less than one quarter, which means I am supporting (with no service for me) the rest of the town for three quarters.”
These were but a sample. Mayor Bill Sauser believed more would come, “I am sure we are going to get comments as soon as people realize what is going on because this is a huge increase.”
Sauser posited this could lead to more illegal dumping in the future.
Because of compound interest, a bill that is currently $100 will be $138.67 by 2027, a 38.7% increase over that six year span.
After the initial round of price increases, the hikes become less extreme. The staff report states, “Increases in the following years starting January 1, 2027 are expected to be tied to annual changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a minimum of 1% and a maximum of 4%.”
Rates are increasing for a variety of reasons. Part of the agreement assumes an estimated $9.3 million in capital expenditures by Mammoth Disposal, primarily for a new transfer station which will cost Mammoth Disposal $1.9 million for land and an estimated $5 million in construction costs.
Additional costs include recycling services and solid waste processing costs as well as disposal costs of tipping at a landfill. Benton Crossing Landfill closes December 31, 2022 and Mammoth Disposal will have to transport waste to Russel Pass Landfill in Nevada. The overall price remains the same but the operation changes slightly.
The Staff report states, “The Town hired HF&H Consultants, LLC to conduct a third-party review of the rates proposed by Mammoth Disposal. The analysis broke the rates down into cost centers which were reviewed for industry reasonableness. Overall, the rate structure was found to be reasonable.”
Additionally, the resolution says, “Mammoth Disposal has experienced increases in the cost of labor, utilities, supplies, equipment, fuel, debt for facility purchase and planned construction, and other costs above the current cost of living index.”
Town Council did not have much of a discussion. Councilman John Wentworth did ask, “How is this contract going to provide for the growing and climbing tourism presence [in Mammoth Lakes]?”
To which Town Manager Dan Holler and Mammoth Disposal representatives essentially responded with, “That would require further discussion, but it is possible to get extra bins in specific areas within this proposed rate structure.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Lynda Salcido kept it short, “Unfortunate that these rates have to go up but given the state guidelines we have to increase.”
Councilman Kirk Stapp praised the efforts to date, “We have come a long way with trying to deal with this issue over the decades.”
The motion passed 5-0.