Another Questionable Solid Waste Choice for Oxnard Residents?

Viewpoint

By David Grau

 
Supervisors Long and Foy,
 
Ventura County Taxpayers Association is concerned about developments between City of Oxnard and its solid waste contract.  Recently Oxnard proposed additional changes to Waste Management’s contract and asked Chiquita Canyon Landfill to show how it might offer a better deal.
 
The approved solid waste contract with Toland Landfill already diverts significant tonnage from Simi Valley Landfill to Toland Landfill, costing the County $200,000 a year in lost  revenue.
 
If Oxnard decided to consider Chiquita instead of Simi Valley, the County could lose another $350,000 a year and experience a substantial increase in truck traffic on Highway 126 through Fillmore.
 
As you recall, on October 1st City Council approved an agreement to ship 48% of its solid waste to Toland, yet delayed a decision on the agreement with Simi Valley Landfill for the remaining 52% of solid waste.
 
Council wanted staff to meet with Waste Management and discuss the exclusivity clause contained in the agreement.
 
On October 15th staff presented it’s recommendation that Council approve the agreement with no changes to the exclusivity clause.
 
Although never contemplated in the VRSD or WM contracts, Mayor Flynn began questioning staff about the benefits of high capacity tipper trailers (15% more capacity) vs. walking floor trailers currently used to deliver Oxnard trash to both Toland and Simi Landfills.
 
After what appeared to be an orchestrated line of questioning between Mayor Flynn and staff about those benefits, it was disclosed that Chiquita Canyon was the only landfill with necessary equipment in place to offload these high capacity trailers.  What a surprise.
 
Fortunately, a representative of Chiquita happened to be at the meeting and graciously offered to assist the Mayor with his questions.  The representative was more than happy to suggest Oxnard could save more money if tonnage from high capacity trucks were sent longer distances down Highway 126 through Fillmore to Chiquita landfill, rather than the shorter drive to Simi Valley Landfill.
 
At this stage staff was clearly confused.  The overriding concept of selecting landfills was carbon footprint and shipping trash twice the distance clearly did not satisfy that criteria.
 
Mayor Flynn suggested the contract with WM be approved and staff begin an RFQ process with Chiquita to explore savings.  City attorney reminded council that asking for an RFQ from another landfill could be viewed as an act of bad faith bargaining with WM and probably not a good idea.
 
Then the kicker.  After council members brain-stormed changes each would like to see in the WM contract, Mayor Flynn asked the representative of WM back to the podium.  With little alternative but to accede to on-the-spot concessions, WM reluctantly agreed to modify or eliminate elements of the contract – making it easier for Chiquita to become an alternative.
 
Those changes included:
 
Section 2.3 Termination for Convenience – “either party can terminate without cause or penalty, upon 180 days written notice.”
 
According to staff report:  “The termination for convenience clause, if invoked, allows the City to enter into a landfill agreement with Chiquita Canyon Landfill, located off Highway 126 east of Fillmore.”
 
Council told WM they would like to reduce the 180 day termination period to between 30 and 60 days  – presumably in the event Chiquita offered a better deal.
 
Section 3.2 Exclusivity Clause: “In the event that either Simi Valley or Toland Road Landfill is closed or becomes unavailable to the City for waste disposal then it shall deliver its waste to the remaining disposal site (Simi Valley or Toland) to the extent that capacity is available at that site. City may only utilize another site if both Simi and Toland are collectively insufficient to handle waste from the City.”
 
According to staff report: “WM requested to retain the language due to the City’s right to terminate language in Section 2.3 of the Agreement.”
 
Council directed staff and WM to change the language and give the city flexibility on where waste is sent.
 
In the end, council agree to pay about $1.7 million owed for services provided in good faith by Waste Management to the City since the contract expired in February 2013. 
 
But delayed for four weeks a decision on the new contract.  Staff needs time to consider the Chiquita option.
 
It is clear Mayor Flynn and council would like to further reduce tonnage delivered to Waste Management, with the potential of the County losing up to $550,000 a year in fees, combined with the burden on roads as hundreds of high capacity trucks drive up Highway 126 to Chiquita.
 
We understand the City of Oxnard can do what is best for Oxnard rate payers.  However, we urge you to consider the negative impact on all taxpayers not simply because of lost revenue from WM but because of unnecessary wear and tear on county roads and additional carbon emissions if Oxnard decides to deliver any solid waste to Chiquita using high capacity trucks.
 
David P. Grau
Chairman – VCTA
 
Interested Oxnard residents can contact the City Council through this link:  City Council Members 

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