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Around Tulare County: Kings Canyon / Talking Trash / Visalia Airport

Kings Canyon Entrance Station To Open:

Kings Canyon National Park’s new entrance station at Big Stump on Highway 180 will open in the next few days.- targeting September 1.The new  check-in station was  was made necessary because of fear that a large Giant Sequoia nearby would fall near the site of the former station. The station services more than 600,000 visitors a year.The new station,in the works since 2004 is located 2.5 miles east of the former station.


Talking Trash: County To Raise Tipping Fees,Close Refuse Facilities & Mandate In-County Disposal.

Facing a $5.1 million budget shortfall the Tulare County Board Of Supervisors are poised to take various measures to raise revenue and cut costs. The actions include raising the tipping fee from $31 a ton to $34.

Further, they plan to close trash transfer stations in rural areas in  Earlimart, Balance Rock, Badger, and Kennedy Meadows Transfer Stations, effective October 1, 2012. Also they will authorize a reduction in days of operation for the Teapot Dome Landfill to Thursdays (7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) through Saturdays (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), effective October 1, 2012.

In addition the county wants to require Licensed Refuse Haulers to deliver waste material collected within their Service Area, excluding recyclables or residuals, to a County operated Solid Waste Facility, effective October 1, 2012 instead of allowing the option to take trash out of county.

Avenal landfill a favored location according to a county report that says Avenal landfill receives 520,000 tons annually compared to 270,00 tons delivered to the Tulare County landfills.

The report says the county is losing revenue in part because 141,000 tons of solid waste is being diverted to landfills outside the county.Most of that to Avenal.

Despite the fact that the Avenal dump has a posted price of $40 a ton contract prices are much lower says Tulare Public Works Director Lew Nelson.”They may be as low as $7” he has heard. Nelson says the city hauls their own trash to the county landfill and will have to bear the higher expense of raising the tipping fee almost 10%.

Some of Visalia’s trash apparently goes to Avenal too,something the county would like to change.”When you add the cost of diesel and hauling the trash across to the other side of the Valley, Avenal’s disposal fee has to be lots cheaper than Tulare county.”says Nelson.

The county estimates that about 43,000 tons of solid waste is being diverted to out-of-county landfills by county licensed haulers and if all was recovered it would generate an addition $1.3 million to the county. The county says they have the power to order such “flow control” and that other counties also make such a requirement.

Avenal disposal is owned by the city of Avenal and operated by Waste Connections based inTexas. The company recently relocated its corporate office from California.

Along with raising revenue and other cuts, the remainder of the county 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.

Visalia Selects Great Lakes Airline in Completion

The Visalia City Council has agreed with the recommendation of a city committee favoring an application from Great Lakes Airline to continue to serve the city’s airport with regular flights under the federal Essential Air Service program.Great Lakes proposal was picked over SeaPort Airlines of Portland, Ore. says airport administrator  Administrator Mario Cifuentez and the recommendation forwarded to FAA earlier this month.Now the FAA will make the final  determination  says Cifuentez and a new contract period will begin October 1. The city hopes to get more flights to LAX daily.

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