By Deb Murphy
Inyo County’s Board of Supervisors really don’t have much of a choice today as they vote on a new three-year landfill lease agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The first two years, the rate stays at $4,900; in the final year it jumps to $22,637. But, the County needs a new permit increasing the daily weight restrictions or face $10,000 a day fines for exceeding the current limit. LADWP won’t sign off on the new permit until a lease is signed. Complying with the current permit would result in landfill closures each day the weight allowance is reached.
The department’s Aqueduct Manager Jim Yannotta provided the rationale behind the increase in an e-mail statement: “The new lease rate for Inyo County’s Bishop Sunland landfill has been established to reflect appropriate costs for leasing and activity on this type of facility in 2017. From 1990 to today the lease rate has been essentially unchanged. In 26 years the lease rate only went up one time ($140 per year)…. Part of the new rate accounts for tipping fees charged by the County. The tipping fee value used by LADWP in the new lease rate calculation is a very conservative amount, in fact it is lower than the County’s new tipping fees. The new rent also includes compensation for water used by the landfill provided by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.”
An effort to determine what other counties pay for leased land under their landfills is nearly impossible. According to Inyo’s Assistant Administrator Rick Benson, most county landfills are operated on county-owned lands.
Inyo’s Sunland landfill isn’t exactly a cash cow. According to Benson during the last months’ presentations on tipping fee adjustments (from $90 per trash hauler to $50 a ton, or $500 for a full load), the landfill loses $900,000 a year. The adjusted fees, scheduled to go into effect March 1, will bring in an additional $635,000, cutting the operations’ losses to $265,000.