Tulare County’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund is projected to operate at a $5.1 million deficit for Fiscal Year 2012-13. The Tulare County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a number of staff recommendations that would close the deficit.
County officials say the operating deficit to the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund can be attributed to dated landfill fees, a reduction in material received, low interest rates, and a reduction in reserves that earn interest.
To bridge the deficit, staff will recommend measures that include closing four transfer stations and modifying hours at a landfill near Porterville, requiring licensed haulers to dump their waste at County landfills, and comprehensive landfill fee reforms through a public hearing process.
According to Solid Waste staff, if all measures are approved, approximately $4.6 million of the $5.1 million projected deficit can be covered. The $4.6 million in measures include:
- Close four transfer stations – Earlimart, Balance Rock, Badger, and Kennedy Meadows – and reducing days at the Teapot Dome Landfill: $807,000 in annual savings.
- Require licensed refuse haulers to deliver waste to a landfill within the County: $682,000 in annual revenue.
- Comprehensive landfill fee reform: $3.1 million in annual revenue.
The remainder of the deficit has been covered by measures staff put in place in the past few months, which included eliminating seven full time vacant positions, postponing equipment purchases, and reducing service contracts. Those measures saved $800,000.
Tulare County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau said the operating deficit to the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund can be attributed to dated landfill fees, a reduction in material received, low interest rates, and a reduction in reserves that earn interest.
“Enterprise funds are used for services provided to the public through user charges, which should cover 100 percent of the cost through no subsidy from the County,” Rousseau said. “Staff has made cuts, but it wasn’t enough. The proposed recommendations should help significantly reduce the deficit. We will need to monitor the impacts of these changes to the Solid Waste Fund to determine if additional changes are necessary.”
The Solid Waste Enterprise Fund has been operating at an average deficit of $4 million for several years. Solid Waste Enterprise Fund reserves, typically used for landfill expansion and equipment purchases, had been used to cover the deficit.
“Tulare County will continue to provide services to the extent that they are funded responsibly,” Rousseau said.