While San Luis Obispo County officially bailed as a member of the embattled Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) on Nov. 15, all seven cities and various local special districts are sticking with it.
Over the past several weeks, each city council has approved an amendment to the IWMA's joint powers agreement (JPA), which lays the groundwork for the agency to move on without the county and continue managing local solid and hazardous waste programs.
- File Photo By Kasey Bubnash
- TRASH TALK The Integrated Waste Management Authority, which oversees local solid and hazardous waste programs, is moving on without SLO County, which withdrew as a member on Nov. 15.
"As of last night [Nov. 16], all of the cities have signed the amendment to the JPA," said Charles Bourbeau, IWMA board president and Atascadero City Council member. "And that is very important because the cities are the members of the JPA. Those things had to be amended for us to effectively continue business."
Bourbeau told New Times that the local cities and community services districts continue to see the benefit of partnering in the IWMA, despite the county's exit. The IWMA allows the region's communities to pool their resources to more efficiently tackle the shared task of solid and hazardous waste disposal.
According to Atascadero city officials at a Nov. 9 council meeting, a city-specific waste program would cost three times as much per year to administer than it would if it shared it with other cities on the IWMA.
"It's a lot cheaper for all of our communities to have six people [working on waste management] than to have every city go out and hire two people. That's the entire purpose and premise of having the IWMA," Bourbeau said.
The next step for the IWMA is to negotiate more amendments to the joint powers agreement that address some of the fallout from its recent blowup with county supervisors. Among them is to agree to keep the agency focused on complying with state laws, and not passing new ordinances. The IWMA's ban on polystyrene is what triggered its dispute with three members of the Board of Supervisors, eventually leading to the county's withdrawal.
The IWMA is also gearing up for the implementation of a new state law, Senate Bill 1383, effective Jan. 1, which is described as the most significant change in solid waste regulations in 30 years. It imposes a variety of requirements for organic waste disposal designed to cut down on methane emissions.
A draft IWMA-commissioned study of SB 1383's impact on the agency, when taking into account the county's exit, shows that the IWMA may have to roughly double its hauler fee to raise sufficient revenue.
How exactly that will impact residents' garbage bills is still a question mark.
"It's very much still being sorted through," Bourbeau said. Δ