To save money and work toward State mandates, Inyo County officials and Supervisors agreed to raise some charges and cut days of service at Inyo County dumps. Those cuts are in effect Big Pine through Lone Pine. Cuts for Bishop’s landfill are pending.
Deputy County Administrator Pam Hennarty is in charge of these changes. To clarify what has already happened, we asked Hennarty for a rundown. She said as of the first of the month, $5 gate fees cover a smaller amount of trash disposal. That fee now covers 1 cubic yard or 5 32-gallon trash cans instead of the previous 3 cubic yards or 15 trash cans. Disposal of shredded tires also costs more. Hennarty said there have not been many complaints about any of these changes.
She explained that along with the cost increases have come a reduction of staff for landfills. One equipment operator will retire and another was moved to the Road Department. This goes along with the change in hours that dumps are open.
This month, the Big Pine Transfer Station was changed to two days per week – Tuesday and Saturday. Independence – Thursday and Sunday. Lone Pine – Monday, Friday and Saturday. Lone Pine and Independence were open five days per week. The same crew will handle both dumps. Hennarty said they did not generate enough business to justify the costs.
The Deputy CAO said staff are still working on changes for the Bishop Landfill. She said the one equipment operator will retire at the end of the month and changes will be made them. Hennarty said the County will not replace that worker and may have to reduce the number of days Bishop dump is open. She said, “We’re trying to get creative.” Hennarty said the County might take waste Saturday and Sunday but put it in a roll-off bin which would not require an equipment operator.
80% of the County’s trash goes to the Bishop Sunland Dump. Earlier concerns came up that commercial haulers might not be able to pick up trash and garbage from restaurants and retail stores as needed if the dump were closed too many days. Hennarty said she has worked with waste haulers and that based on their schedules, there will be no negative impacts on waste collection systems. She said there was “an outcry from businesses and residents” to keep the dump open weekdays. She said the County also heard from self-haulers who want access during the weekend.
Hennarty said commercial haulers are okay with current plans, although nothing is settled about Bishop. Asked what would happen on big tourist weekends like Mule Days, Hennarty said, “We would always work with the haulers and have the option to work on Saturday.”
Some citizens see landfills as essential services, not to be taken away. County officials disagree. The County currently collects a Transaction Use Tax which pays about a million dollars for landfills. Hennarty said that above that, the dumps use $300,000 to $400,000 from the general fund. The proposed cuts of staff and equipment would save $250,000.