Talking heads discuss garbage tax

7 May

Yesterday I attended the Local Governments Committee meeting Downtown. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole meeting but stayed long enough to satisfy my curiosity about some issues I’ve been trying to follow. 

In attendance were county supervisors Maureen Kirk and Larry Wahl, Chico council members Mayor Mark Sorensen, Mayor of Vice Sean Morgan and better-never-than-late Reanette Fillmer. There were staffers from the city and the county, including county administrator Paul Hahn and city manager Mark Orme.

These meetings are for staffers to provide updates to representatives of various county and city entities of ongoing issues like the nitrate compliance plan and the garbage franchise.  They are open to the public and the public should try to attend – a good overview of what’s going on, shorter and more to the point than council meetings.  I’m sorry, I mistakenly said they are held monthly – it’s every three months, which is a good schedule, not too often, not too seldom. They include minutes from previous meetings so you can stay up on the conversation.

Yesterday Hahn and Orme both gave reports on their respective garbage franchise efforts. At the county, Hahn made it clear that the main concern is getting enough trash to keep the dump operating, so the franchise includes a provision that trash must go to the Neal Road Landfill. This was a question because Recology owns and operates a dump in Wheatland where they are currently taking Chico’s trash. Trash  from the county now goes exclusively to Neal Road. 

Hahn went on enthusiastically about how they need that money to modernize the dump. I’ve seen improvements at the dump the last few years so I’m willing to believe him. I also appreciate his frankness – he complained, and other county staffers like Bill Mannel complained about Waste Management. They said  their phones “rang off the hook” for about two weeks with complaints about the new trash service, “mostly Waste Management.” Waste Management has no call center in  California – you WM customers knew that already – it’s in PHOENIX! If you’ve had that problem with WM for years, maybe it’s a comfort for you to know they treated your $200,000/year County Administrative Officer like shit too.

And frankly, for an overpaid pencil pusher, Hahn is a very nice and approachable man, that kind of pisses me off. 

The county had  all  kinds of problems with WM, but the one that got people really upset was the change  from weekly recycling and yard waste pick-up to bi-monthly pick-up. After all these years they’ve been telling us we need to recycle and sort our yard waste, they cut service? I can’t believe they thought that would be okay – this whole thing is a Repo-Man grab between the county, the haulers, and the customers, fighting over nickels and dimes because the county is so desperate to keep the salaries paid. That’s why the dump has no money, the are management heavy out there. 

Another problem was private roads. Garbage trucks shred even  paved roads, so a lot of people in Forest Ranch and other rural communities don’t want them on their private roads. The haulers won’t go on a private road anymore without a signed release, they don’t want to be responsible for what their oversized trucks do  to private roads. Bill Mannel says there’s a conundrum here – if the county forces the haulers onto private roads without the release of liability, they will be legally responsible for the roads. But, county money cannot be used to fix private roads. This is also a problem in Chico – I have two private driveways shared with neighbors who bring trucks right up to my gate. I asked Orme about this and he pretended ignorance – there’s private driveways all  over Chico, do people know their rights regarding the damage these trucks are doing to their private property? 

It was refreshing to hear these people talk straight about the problems the average person has every day.  And we have no clout, we have to depend on these happy wanderers to protect us.  Talk about “up Shit Creek without a paddle.”  At least the county is not making service mandatory, they just want whatever trash is picked up to go  to their dump. I don’t think that’s unreasonable – ever follow a garbage truck for 60 miles up Hwy 70? That’s unreasonable. 

Chico City Mangler Mark Orme made it clear that the city’s franchise agreement is about money for the city of Chico. When I asked him if service would  be mandatory for city residents, he wormed  around (I’m going to call that, “Orming”), saying this was still in negotiation with the haulers. But he added, many municipalities require trash service, and the way he said it leads me to believe that’s what he wants. When I asked him about a subsidy for low-income, he said that was in negotiation too.

I wish  I were a lawyer, but I do know, if they try to shove mandatory service on us, they have to have the low-income subsidy,  just like Obamacare. 

I don’t like Mark Orme. He’s out for his own gain, he doesn’t give a crap about this town. 

After the garbage franchise report they went on to discuss a few other interesting topics – I’ll get back to you on those, time to get to work. 

8 Responses to “Talking heads discuss garbage tax”

  1. jiminchico May 8, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    I’m starting to lose track of all the new taxes they want. Sales tax for police, property tax for a new pool, garbage tax for ?, developer fee for a new jail, water fines for the drought.

    What did I miss?

    • Juanita Sumner May 8, 2015 at 8:16 am #

      Thanks for asking – I was just getting ready to write a post about the CARD aquatic center committee meeting to be held Monday at the CARD center, 6:30. They want a bond or assessment for a $10-18 million aquatic center.

    • Juanita Sumner May 12, 2015 at 5:08 am #

      That’s really too bad for them. I’ve had reports on our local hotels – all dogs. When teams from out of town came to play at a tournament with my son’s hockey club, their credit cards were compromised at a Chico hotel. After that, word spread fast, for subsequent tournaments most of the visitors drove to the casino at Corning, or brought their rv’s to the rink.

      Butte County is not a raging tourist destination, I don’t know how they think this is going to help them. They should be offering packages and other discounts, getting other local businesses involved, not adding to the tab.

  2. Jim May 12, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    You are right, this isn’t a tourist destination. People come here for events, such as college graduation, the Wildflower, etc. Such events are already effectively promoted.

    Now I’m still upset about the cancellation of Pioneer Days. That event drew a lot of tourists into town, without spending any money to promote it. As I recall the Parade would often draw a crowd of 50,000, at a time when the City population was about 30,000. But they threw it away.

    These people don’t know what they are doing, but want to be well paid for doing it.

    • Juanita Sumner May 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      I also remember when Pioneer Days was a big event, drawing alumni from all over the state and the country. I know people got ready for it for months, local organizations and companies started planning their floats for the following year as soon as the parade was over.

      There’s too much antagonism in this town between political groups, haggling for their own gain, without any regard for the town as a whole.

  3. Jim May 15, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    I just learned that the City has already been collecting a tax on hotel rooms, which was supposed to be going to promote tourism, but it’s not. I read that in 2013 they collected $800,000. It’s being sucked up by the usual folks to fund their salaries and benefits.

    • Juanita Sumner May 15, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      I’m ignorant here – I know the “Transient Occupancy Tax” is a percentage of the bill, collected by hotels within the city limit and turned over to the city. But that fund brought in over $2 million in 2012-13. TOT is the city’s third biggest revenue source, after sales tax ($17.2 mil), property tax ($11.2 mil), and utility tax ($6.2 mil). Those funds go into salaries and benefits.

      I think TOT is reasonable, as long as it’s kept at 1 or 2 percent of the tab. Most visitors place strains on our services, so we should be able to re-coup a reasonable fee. But, this idea of just adding another tax to travelers is not worth the risk of getting a bad reputation.

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