Locals look for way to keep transfer station open
The Plumas County Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously approved a plan to keep the Graeagle Transfer Site open on weekends for the next month while locals try to find a way to keep it open in the long term.
Graeagle resident Jack Bridge presented the views of a group of community members about the proposed closing of the area’s waste transfer site at a Tuesday, Nov. 9, meeting.
Essentially this consisted of suggestions for possible cost savings Intermountain Disposal (IMD) Manager Ricky Ross could find with help from the community.
He began by suggesting that drop-off for appliances and metal could be moved to Delleker, adding that the recycling program in Graeagle could shift from buy-back, where residents are reimbursed if they sort their items, to commingled, where people just drop off their recycling all together and don’t get reimbursed.
Bridge also suggested that Ross could save $22,000 by cutting back from four days per week to two.
“I would just like the board to remember that every day that site is open is costing us money that our other customers are subsidizing that do not even use that site.” Ricky Ross, Intermountain Disposal
Ross had previously argued that he lost $100 per day when the site was open, which pencils out to $20,800 per year.
Based on those previous arguments, it would seem that from Ross’s perspective, cutting the days of operation in half would only cut that loss in half.
Later in the meeting Ross argued that some expenses, like electricity and water, would exist as long as the site is open at all, regardless of how many days per week.
This might account for the differences in the citizens’ and Ross’s reading of the numbers.
Bridge also addressed $150,000 in capital improvements that Ross previously said needed to be made to account for safety measures and liability if the site were to remain open much longer.
He argued that Ross could save money in multiple line items from not having to put in a new appliance bin.
The Graeagle local also told the board Ross should only put in temporary facilities because of long-term uncertainties about the site.
He added that there didn’t need to be a breakroom for the employee at the site because “He should be working all except for his lunchtime and usually they close the gate and go to lunch.”
In reality, California labor laws require that employers provide 10-minute breaks after each three and a half hours of work.
If an employee is ever required to stay at work for lunch for any reason a sanitary place must be provided for him to eat.
Bridge’s background material argued that a 40-50 percent reduction in the total capital costs might be possible if the community’s recommendations were taken.
He also said the BOS could consider a surcharge fee for “those who use the Graeagle facility.”
Bridge and several other citizens argued that fewer people would recycle and more people would illegally dump trash, which they felt was already a problem, if the site were closed.
Public Works Director Robert Perreault said he would work with the residents group in the upcoming month and vet some of their suggestions.
He also pointed out that Ross had a program where people could get trash pickup even if they were just in the area for a weekend.
Ross said this involved the homeowner purchasing a bear-proof container to put his garbage bin in.
He explained that people could leave their trash in that location and call his company and someone would pick it up the next time they were in the area.
Ross said this service wasn’t much more expensive than a weekly pickup in terms of how much customers pay for each occasion.
Bridge summed up his arguments: “The county budget is tight, we understand that. The merchants are struggling to stay open and if we are gonna transfer costs to the merchants in a time when they are already under stress economically I think that we have to balance that.”
The IMD manager argued that illegal dumping was already a problem with the station operational.
He added, “It’s not uncommon throughout the county to have to travel distances to transfer sites.”
In response to Bridge’s arguments about transfer costs he said, “I would just like the board to remember that every day that site is open is costing us money that our other customers are subsidizing that do not even use that site.”
In terms of the needed capital improvements he commented, “You might say that right now the Graeagle Transfer Site is a walking OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) violation.”
On the topic of a surcharge for people dropping off trash at the station, Ross said it would lead many people to move to trash pickup, which would mean a small group of people paying a very large fee to drop off their trash.
He said the fluctuations in use would turn that charge into “a bookkeeping nightmare.”
After hearing all sides of the issue, the supervisors voted unanimously to move scrap metal and appliance drop-off to Delleker and change the Graeagle site to commingled recycling.
The issue of closure will be taken up again Tuesday, Dec. 14.
Public works will be meeting with the community group in the meantime.