The Inyo landfill story

sunlandlandfill2To 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.


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45 Responses to The Inyo landfill story

  1. Brian May 15, 2014 at 6:29 am #

    I remember as a kid riding to the dump with my Dad on the weekends to dump our trash. No gate attendant, no gate fee. There also was no separation on the type of waste except dead animals and ashes went to a different area. I can understand there is more waste to deal with now and recycling calls for greater separation but how did the dump pay for itself “back in the day” versus now? Are tax dollars simply being shifted elsewhere and the expectation is for people to pay for that service now more out of pocket? As a taxpayer it seems like I should be allowed to use dump services (within reason) without having to pay a second time, or so it seems. Perhaps Pam can explain a little further. Thanks.

  2. Steve May 15, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    This is not going well in Olancha. The transfer station had a big roll off that was filled to the brim every week. It was removed on May 1st and no new dumpsters were added to make up for the removed roll off. Now this week all the dumpsters have been full 2 days after they were empty. Olancha and Cartago have over 300 people living in the area using 8 regular size dumpsters. There is no provision for brush and tree trimmings and Cal Fire is handing out notices to clean and clear definable space around your house.

    This will lead to illegal dumping in the area. BLM has said in the past if Inyo Co. cut back on trash and the BLM found an increase in illegal dumping they would sue Inyo Co.

    So Inyo Co. will not save money by cutting services like trash removal. This will never work.

  3. Square D May 15, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    Did you know the county has a person in charge of the dump making close to 6 figures and the assistant hired at the top end of her range (Hennarty) making 6 figures that oversee him. I know I’m being very critical, but the elected leaders just blame the state for the cost instead of fighting the state to stop something that is costly to local citizens.
    Mark this post, there will be more dumping out in the wilderness. People just can’t pay to do things right anymore.

  4. Mongo the Idiot May 15, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    “Some citizens see landfills as essential services, not to be taken away. County officials disagree.”
    Remember County Official; we pay your taxes so we work for you. You tell us what to do so we can comply and keep our servitude.
    Thank You 😉

  5. John Barton May 15, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    It appears to be a shell game. Let’s move people over to a different department and make it look like we’re saving money over here. Who pays for the increased personnel cost at the road department? Why can’t road department funds be used to subsidize the landfill? We all use the roads and we all use the landfill in one way or another. People who use the dump for commercial purposes (contractors, tree trimmers, gardners etc) should pay more of course but they pass the cost on to the customer anyway. I think all county departments can run more efficiently if they look at their overhead. Bigger government equals more taxes. Meanwhile, taxes and FEES go up but services (landfill hours) decline. For the average person who only sends their household trash to the landfill once per week either by a commercial wastehauler or in person, they are in essence being taxed twice.

    • Concerned May 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

      The waste haulers pay $3 per cubic yard for compacted trash and the public pays $5 per cubic yard. A cubic yard of compacted trash weighs about 400 lbs. Non-compacted, 100 lbs. that means waste haulers pay $15 per ton and the public pays $100 per ton.

    • Desert Tortoise May 15, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

      Most of the funds used for road repair and construction come from state gas tax funds and Transit Development Act (TDA) Article 8 funds (TDA funds are to be used primarily for public transit under TDA Article 4, anything left over can be used for roads under TDA Article 8). There are complex formulas for determining how much of each funding a rural county receives from the state. Counties and municipalities can chip in general fund monies and do what they want with those, but gas tax and TDA Article 8 money has to be spent on roads. It cannot, by law, be spent on anything else. Most areas of the state have shifted general fund money away from road repair to cover other county or municipal expenses during times of low tax revenues, leaving road repair funding lagging.

  6. Wayne Deja May 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Before anyone complains too much about the cost to be dumping at the land-fill,keep in mind back in the late 80’s in Lancaster…..over 25 years ago….a dump fee for a truck-bed load was $18.00…for one load….and anything over the bed of the truck was extra…the only real problem I see with the increase in fees is the bums that will choose to dump in the desert to avoid paying anything….

    • John Barton May 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      Wayne- To clarify, I think Brian was trying to make the same point that I was– it’s not about the cost but rather paying that cost twice– once via taxation and again at the landfill. With anything else you use, you would expect to pay more to maintain or improve the level of service you are paying for as time goes by. Inyo County has taken the position that we should pay more for less service.

    • Desert Tortoise May 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      LA County charges waste haulers $38-$42 a ton to dispose of municipal solid waste in their landfills. That “tipping fee is included in your bill to your waste hauler. It is not paid in your taxes. Kern County places the landfill costs on your property tax bill (the haulers do not pay tipping fees at Kern County landfills for trash picked up in Kern County) and leaves you to pay the waste hauler for the cost to take your trash to the dump. Despite that difference Waste Management charges customers in Lancaster and Palmdale less per month than they charge Kern County customers and Lancaster and Palmdale have three can systems where Kern County uses a two can system. Scratch your head over that for a while.

      • RAM May 16, 2014 at 9:01 am #

        Waste Management also charges less for trash pickup within city limits than they do for the same pickup service in unincorporated areas of the county.

    • Rick O'Brien May 16, 2014 at 1:37 am #

      Wayne…then in about 100 years from now, the BLM can fine anyone who they catch going through the illegal dump/trash pile.

      • Wayne Deja May 16, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

        Rick….To be honest about it,only those dumb enough to get CAUGHT digging around the desert by BLM are the ones that got to worry about that.

        • Rick O'Brien May 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

          Wayne, until the recent story about the poor guy getting his house searched,convicted, and fined thousands of dollars for digging up TRASH, I never gave digging in the desert a second thought. I USED to dig quite frequently at a spot out by Coaldale Junction. Almost every single time , I watched Esmerelda County deputies run radar enforcement less than 100 yards from where I was digging. Once, a deputy even drove out to me, interested in what I was doing, NOT because of any enforcement action. I’ll never get (digging up trash,litter,refuse) being illegal, but I sure won’t be doing it anymore. After 30 years, I’ve acquired enough.

          • just another clown May 18, 2014 at 8:48 am #

            If it was trash, you wouldn’t be digging it up and collecting it. Digging on private land (with landowner permission) isn’t illegal. Stealing cultural heritage from state or federal land is a crime. Ignorance, whether actual or professed out of cynicism and contempt, isn’t an excuse.

          • Wayne Deja May 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

            Rick…Here’s one to think about….heard it from a local that owns property and homes in town….They claim they got a notice in the mail saying,starting next month,don’t know if it’s the Feds or State,but saying they plan to go house-to-house making “suggestions” to homeowners and renters about how they should landscape,if they should have grass, trees,flowers,etc..saying what should be done if there might be litter, or if they have old relics in the yard or garage,where and when they got them….even checking electrical lines,depth of propane lines,water lines…..and maybe hard to believe, but also wanting to go INSIDE the house and see if counter tops,carpet,plumbing might need fixing or replaced…the person telling me this didn’t show me the notice,and don’t know if this added tidbit about to come next here was part of the note or not,but they ALSO told me to make sure you don’t have over your legal possession limit of 10 trout in your freezer,cause they might be checking on that too…IN YOUR FRIDGE !!…If anyone else has gotten one of these notices,please post here and let us know when this plans to start up in Inyo and Mono Counties…..Thanks…

          • Rick O'Brien May 18, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

            Clown…have’n’t you ever heard the expression, “One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure” ? AND, when it was dumped in the desert 100 years ago, it WAS trash. Go out to the Tonopah dump sometime and have a look around.

    • RAM May 16, 2014 at 6:08 am #

      Waste Management in the Antelope Valley charges about 60 bucks for a pickup load now.

      I’ve always said if you’re unhappy with dump fees don’t dump in the desert, dump it on the steps of the County seat.

      • Wayne Deja May 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

        Off topic,but here’s ANOTHER one kinda hard to believe…Was driving in town the other day after doing some lawn maintenance at a yard…just left there,and happened upon a group of LADWP workers doing some pole work,with some of the lane blocked….one of them hand-motioned to me….rolled down my window thinking maybe I had a short wait while they were maybe erecting the pole….but,instead,the hard-hat DWP employee,after motioning me over told me to buckle my seat belt…..I’m beginning to think that story I heard a few months back that I mentioned on this site,about the van-load of LADWP workers being able to ask fishermen about fishing licenses and limits in your ice chest on the creek and in campgrounds might be true…..maybe having some law enforcement cred nowdays….and lawfully able to issue citations….not only concerning fishing regulations,but maybe traffic laws too !!…maybe LE is branching out….after all,I was told by a Cal Trans employee a few years back that I wasn’t allowed to help catch a runaway dog off of HWY 395…..what’s going on here I ask ?

        • Bob May 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

          I would have thanked him for reminding me about my seatbelt.

          But when asked about a fishing lic or limits I would had to ask “What business is it of LADWP how many fish I have or if I have a fishing license”.

          I’ve been stopped by the USFS and had them ask where I was going. To which I replied; “What business is it of the USFS where I’m going?”

          Just because they ask doesn’t mean you have to give them an answer.

  7. Indy Resident May 15, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Here in Independence, we have an abundance of county paid dumpsters at Dehy Park, at the south end of town at the small park, and at Independence Campground… All county paid properties with county paid dumpsters for the tourists… I witness local, long time residents putting their trash in these dumpsters weekly( yes I have pictures and lic plates) and complaining about tax/trash increases. Lets get real people.

    • Mongo the Idiot May 16, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      Independence Dump Cheaters; perhaps a new reality show for SW media?
      I’m gunna’ say trash, complaining, and cynicism are a few of my favorite pastimes.
      Send those pictures in Indy-res, I wanna wallow in the satisfying superiority that only the bad behavior of others can bring…

  8. Trouble May 15, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Wayne, what do you think your property taxes should pay for? I say schools first.

    • Ted May 16, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      2/3 of property taxes go to your local school district, 1/3 goes to the general fund.

    • RAM May 16, 2014 at 8:50 am #

      I say property taxes should pay for planned parenthood (birth control) first, then schools.

    • Ken Warner May 16, 2014 at 9:26 am #

      Trouble: Yes, schools first! An educated population is more cost effective than hiring more Police.

      When Prop. 13 was voted into law in 1978, education took a big hit. You can read about the history and the controversy here:

      One of the points of Prop 13 was to keep retired people from losing their homes. But it only seemed to make property values go up so that people got bought out or forced out by development.

      • Trouble May 16, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

        I agree Ken.But I really think everybody should have to pay the same percentage of taxes on everything. What’s not fair about that?

        • Ken Warner May 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

          A flat tax is sometimes called a regressive tax. To low income people 13% is a lot more purchasing power than 13% is to a millionair. It’s fair but not realistic in our economy.

  9. SECounty May 16, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    The Transaction and Use Tax (TUT) was put into place to pay for the cost of the dumps back in the late 1980’s. But 1/3 of that TUT goes to the City of Bishop to pay for the park allegedly because “everybody in the county uses the park”. Really? How about residents in Tecopa and Shoshone or Darwin or Cartago or a lot of other little bergs in the southeast portion of the county? That is where the dump closures and elimination of roll offs have really affected the residents. If the City of Bishop turned that money that they are getting from the TUT back over to the County, it would help pay for all the dumps, including the Bishop dump. And don’t give me the argument that 27% of the TUT is generated in Bishop because so is most of the trash, and that money could then go towards paying for the Bishop dump!

  10. Ken Warner May 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Maybe some thought should be given to what can be done with trash other than just covering it up with dirt. Trash to energy — one way or another. Smart recycling to convert plastic as building materials. There’s probably a way to make money off trash.

    • Trouble May 16, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

      How would the cashiers ever figure out what to charge us without a bar code on a half filled bag of heart attack chips???

    • Desert Tortoise May 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      You are a little behind the times there lad. Way back in 1979 the State Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law AB939 which required 50% of municipal solid waste statewide to be diverted from landfills into recycling programs. Inyo County has fought the AB939 requirements from the day they became law, to the point where a state court took over the county’s solid waste agency for a period of time. If you go into the CalRecycle website and look up the enforcement actions against Inyo County you will see what I mean. Inyo County has never made a serious effort to comply with the law, preferring to stall and sue the state.

      More recently, June of 2010 if memory serves, the current Governor signed an amendment to AB939 that increases the required diversion rate to 75%, effective in 2020. The purpose of these laws is to preserve scarce landfill space for the future. Landfills are hideously expensive to site, and there is always huge opposition to creating new landfills. Preserving existing landfills and eventually ending the landfilling of trash are the goals of this sort of legislation.

  11. Bob May 18, 2014 at 5:17 am #

    People who have kids should be taxed more

    • Mongo the Idiot May 18, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      I’d bet the kids could manage the landfill at a profit with the $5 charge.
      DUMP 101 should be taught by Bob who will get a tax exemption for the effort.
      Mongo will broker all the recyclables for 10%.
      SW Media will produce “Inde’ Dump Cheaters” with 14.2% of the proceeds benefiting the landfill and animal shelter.
      When this thing gets syndication Independence will have the richest $5 dump in the nation.
      Problem solved…
      Everyone happy???
      Definitely Not.
      Someone is going to embezzle the profits, plus BLM, USDA, USFS, DFG, LADWP, PETA, and Caltrans are all going to want a piece.
      And this is just the nose of the poop-berg.
      Wait till they want to put solar panels at the dump site.
      And yes, it hurts Mongo to be this stupid.

      • Trouble May 18, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

        Maybe if we had Supervisors and a planning commission that cared more about our city and county , than their free insurance.

    • Trouble May 18, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      I don’t know Bob, a good war can help with population control.

      • Wayne Deja May 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

        Trouble….You stuck your foot in your mouth again.. saying something off- the- wall to garner attention….there is no such thing as a “good war”…

  12. Trouble May 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    We need a free trash dump. It would encourage people to pick up all their crap and clean up their streets and neighborhood.. The next time you drive around your town look and see which houses have the most junk laying around. It’s the poorer half that can’t afford to get their trash to the dumps. It can cost thousands of dollars to clean up many of these places around here.

    • Desert Tortoise May 19, 2014 at 7:31 am #

      Landfills don’t operate themselves. They are not “free”. Some group pays to operate them. If there is no tipping fee charged, I can guarantee you that entities, even big waste haulers, will take their trash from other counties that do charge a tipping fee, lie to the gate guard about where the trash came from, and dump it in the “free” landfill.

      Think I am making this up? This is exactly what Benz Sanitation did to the city of Ridgecrest. Kern county puts the cost of operating county landfills on the property taxes of Kern County land owners so there is no tipping fee charged at the gate for Kern County trash. LA County does not do this, preferring to charge the fee at the gate, weighing the trucks as they enter and leave to determine the tonnage of trash dumped. Benz was taking trash it picked up in LA County, dumping it in the Tehachapi Landfill, their drivers telling the gate guards the trash came from Tehachapi, Ridgecrest and a few other Kern County garden spots. Then to add insult to injury, Benz notified the California Integrated Waste Management Board, now re-named Cal-Recycle, that Ridgecrest was not meeting the 50% diversion requirement, citing the tonnage of LA County trash Benz was attributing to Ridgecrest when their drivers lied to the gate guard. Cal Recycle came down on Ridgecrest like a ton of bricks, big fines, and the city was forced to institute mandatory curbside recycling, which because of how the state law is written, Benz got that contract. Benz charged so much that the city refused to renew their contract and hired Waste Management. Within a couple of weeks Waste Management was telling RPD that they weren’t picking up anywhere near the tonnage of trash each week Benz was attributing to Ridgecrest. Keep in mind that Waste Management knows how the game is played and their drivers certainly knew what the Benz drivers were up to. RPD eventually took Benz to court and they lost big.

      But this is just one way a “free” landfill can be abused. There are others. FInd out what the terms “ghost haulers” and “phantom tonnage” mean in the waste hauling business. Orange County does not permit self haul to their landfills, the abuse was so bad. They require all waste to go first to sortation facilities to be loaded on big semis for delivery to the landfill. This ensures no recyclables end up in the landfill and permits more detailed screening for the source of trash that was not possible at the landfills with trucks backed up a mile or more at the main gate.

    • Wayne Deja May 19, 2014 at 7:50 am #

      Trouble…..Don’t think it would help much…Being a pig usually starts when people are young,and stays with them through their lives…and the people with the nice homes and properties just pay someone else to come and clean up their messes when some can’t afford to do that..

  13. Waxlips May 19, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    I’ve heard, the Lone Pine dump used to be orderly and neat, now it is a mess and people are dumping their trash where ever they want.

  14. Waxlips May 19, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Are you listening Pam?

  15. Mongo the Idiot May 19, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    How about we build tract houses out at the dump and just leave our trash in what used to call town?

  16. wertyu May 21, 2014 at 6:03 am #

    I see trash already starting to be dumped in canyons and desert areas as the roll-offs are gone and the bins will be next. It is interesting to note that the roll-offs were county dumped once a week and the bins are contracted services. As many know, once a service job/position is eliminated, no new employees are ever replaced in this county. Where do all the rural people dump? More money, time and labor to do it. Great job supervisors. Raises without the money….

    This county needs to get it’s bloated heads out of the sand and really start recycling. I do not like L.A. but at least they have a cash cow called a recycling program that after a 2 year start up, not only paid for its start-up costs and vehicles back, is cost effective, created jobs, paid for some of the workers housing, and now makes money for the city. Income, income, income…

    • The Aggressive Progressive May 21, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      I hate to say it, but I have seen a couple “new” areas in the LP area, one by the sand traps that is made up of construction trash (empty caulking tubes, and demo of a cabinet or something), like somebody’s side job, and then you will also find some of narrow gauge area by the dry lakes..

      It just makes me wonder… How in the heck do we continue to pile up trash (landfills, disposals, dumpsters, litterers, water ways, etc.etc.) and not look at it as the most common offering we give back to our MotherEarth, Yeah trash, I see all the trash we just throw away as the new worlds way of saying Thank You for all we receive from the Earth (I mean a huge percentage of consumers don’t even recycle what the current economic model will allow)…

      The fact our market and economic structures have not been fully revised by a social uprising or revolution, proves and show’s how asleep at the wheel we ALL are, you can’t sustain anything in the current model where OUR MotherEarth’s resources are looked at as a inventory of goods to profit off of.

      Just have to follow the money, just like in politics, you follow the money, not the ideologies and it will make more sense, here in the this landfill issue, we have to just realize money is going to development, never to preservation, there is no money to be made in preservation…. We are so backwards, or right on course if we (humans) don’t intend to survive on this planet.


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