Waste from Turlock will be no longer be calling Stanislaus County its home.
In a 4-0 decision, the Turlock City Council voted to direct Turlock Scavenger, the city’s primary waste management company, to take waste to Merced Regional Waste Authority for the next 120 calendar days in an attempt to reduce costs.
The decision to no longer process waste within Stanislaus County comes in light of a spike in disposal fees set by the county last year. In July, the county approved a long term agreement with Covanta Energies in regards to the maintenance and upkeep of the county's own Waste to Energy facility. Subsequently, the approval of the agreement resulted in an increase in disposal costs for users of the landfill, from $28 per ton to $39.29 a ton, prompting city officials to find a cheaper alternative.
Dan Madden, director of municipal services, said that the City of Turlock had no say in the July agreements.
“In no time during the process of negotiations with Covanta was the City of Turlock approached relative to the terms of the contract negotiations or any input on those negotiations,” said Madden.
The Merced County Solid Waste Authority has tentatively proposed a 10-year agreement with the City of Turlock. MSCWA has proposed a significantly cheaper rate of $18 per ton.
Turlock City Council member Forest White said that the decision to direct Turlock Scavenger to Merced County is a financial necessity in face of the mounting disposal fees.
“We’re no longer talking nickels and dimes,” said White. “You divide that up by the rate payer, and we’re talking significant dollars.”
White also said that if the county and the City of Modesto were willing to “sharpen their pencils” then talks of future negotiations to rejoin the county's landfill could be a real possibility.
“I’d like a bigger part in the opportunity to arrive at a contract,” said Council member Bill Dehart. “It makes sense for the people of Turlock.”
Keith Boggs, assistant executive officer of Stanislaus County, expressed concerns that if Turlock decides to leave the Stanislaus County Regional Waste Agency then it would take away from recycling diversion costs that help fund the agency.
“It’s not about Turlock leaving the regional agency, it’s about Stanislaus County leaving the regional agency,” said Boggs. “In essence, it would make it a shell agency.”