MADERA COUNTY – It will soon cost more to have your trash collected or to take your household trash to the North Fork Transfer Station.
On Aug. 21, the Board of Supervisors, upon the recommendation of County staff, voted unanimously to increase the tipping fees at the landfill from $40 to $55 per ton as of Oct. 1.
“Without the proposed rate increases, the County will run out of funds in the next two years,” said staff in their recommendation, referencing funds required to operate solid waste management.
The County contracts with HDR Engineering, Inc. for solid waste management consulting services. HDR prepared a 5-year forecast including the Landfill operations and costs, and the Transfer Station operations and costs.
That 5-year forecast was presented to the Board and the public at a meeting on July 31. Previously-projected timelines for when the current landfill would reach its capacity were adjusted, due in part to future new residential developments and “a couple hundred more tons per day” currently being delivered to the landfill. Two liner expansions will be necessary in the next five years, said HDR.
The fee increase is necessary in order to pay for that expansion, says Public Works Director Ahmad Alkhayyat. The updated capital plan projects that over the next five years, the landfill will incur approximately $9.7 million in capital costs, and a new liner will be needed by 2021 rather than the previously-projected 2023, with another needed two years later.
The largest components of the project will be:
- $1.96 million in landfill liner design, permitting and construction in fiscal year 2019/2020
- $2.02 million in landfill liner design, permitting and construction in fiscal year 2022/2023
- $1.35 million in landfill gas collection and control system replacements
- $0.71 million in landfill gas collection and control system expansions
Fees at the Fairmead Landfill and the North Fork Transfer Station will be raised from the current $5 for three 33-gallon cans, to $10. The current price of $15 for a pickup load less than 500 lbs. will go from $15 to $20 (see charts below).
Tipping fees for clean wood waste and clean green waste will remain at the current levels of $30.39 and $20.26 per ton respectively.
The price for municipal solid waste for non-contractors will be raised from $45.58 per ton to $60/ton at the landfill, and from $67.12 per ton to $87 per ton at the North Fork Transfer Station on Oct. 1.
A price increase to $105.78 per ton at the North Fork facility was proposed and accepted by the Board, however they voted unanimously to split the increase into two parts, implementing the bump to $87 per ton on Oct. 1, and delaying the balance of the 58 percent increase to July 2019.
Madera County Public Works Director Ahmad Alkhayyat says the increase at the North Fork facility will bring the price up to what it actually costs to provide the convenience of having a disposal facility in Eastern Madera County. At current rates, the cost to operate the North Fork facility is far greater than the revenue it generates.
“We pay the contractor to haul out of North Fork to the landfill, and the break-even price for that is $105.78,” says Alkhayyat.
The increase in tipping fees will also raise the price to have trash collected by Emadco Disposal Services in the mountain area and by Redrock Environmental Group in the Valley.
Ashley Smith, manager at Emadco, says his company has absolutely no control over what price they must charge for trash collection, and that any increase in fees goes to the County, not Emadco.
“To remain compliant with our County contract, the prices have to go up when tipping fees go up,” says Smith. “There are very specific formulas in the contract that we must adhere to in order to remain compliant. We submit all our new pricing to the County based on their increases in tipping fees, they check it to see that it complies to the penny, and the new rates just make us whole. If we were making ‘x’ before the increase, we will be making ‘x’ after the increase.”
Shad Gunderman, business manager at Emadco, says the increase for mountain area residents will be less than the cost of a postage stamp per week – about 47 cents, or $1.88 per month.
“An increase in the tipping fees is never something we want to see,” says Gunderman. “Where it used to cost us $1,500 to dump one truckload, now it will cost $2,000.”
Each year the fees contractors will charge for trash collection are reevaluated. The adjusted fees take effect on July 1 and are based on the tipping fees, the Consumer Price Index and Fuel Price Index, and the fee is adjusted up or down accordingly, says Gunderman. In 2016, the rate actually decreased 2.25 percent from $30.41 to $29.73 based upon those numbers.
Gunderman says that the rate paid by mountain area residents is about the same as the rates for those in the Valley, even though the cost to transport to the landfill is substantially higher.
By comparison, the rate for those living in Mariposa County is reportedly nearly three times the Madera County rate. Though repeated calls to contractor Recology requesting their rates were not returned, a reader on Darrah Road reports paying $92.86 per month for weekly trash pickup with no recycling bins offered.
District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, whose district includes the North Fork Transfer Station, says he is extremely frustrated by the need for the increases and has been pushing back against raising fees.
“I know people aren’t going to be happy about this, but the cost of doing business goes up every day,” said Wheeler. “It’s something we don’t have any control over. But according to the data provided the consulting firm, the rest of the county has been supplementing the operation of the North Fork Transfer Station for many years.”
Click here to view the Aug. 21 Board of Supervisors meeting and scroll through to 3 hours 39 minutes for discussion on tipping fees.
Click here for the staff recommendation and Board Resolution on the increase beginning on page 444.