BY DONNA WESTFALL
In a special board meeting of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority (DNSWMA) on Friday morning, July 26th, the hot topics were: Kevin Hendrick, Executive Director, sudden retirement; and the consideration of whether to have Ted Ward step into the Director’s position on an interim basis. There are apparent problems with both.
In a 4-0 vote (Rick Holley absent), Mr. Kenrick’s retirement was approved with 3 months severance pay. But the vote on appointing Ted Ward interim director stalled out in discussions and a re-vote was taken. His contract still to be negotiated would include a 5% increase. Yet Mr. Ward was not agreeable to handling some of the responsibilities.
First, the Director is responsible for the money and the budget. That includes accounting for the income and expenses. Ted Ward admitted in public statements that he lacked the experience, background and desire to take responsibility if he were to act as interim Director.
Next, auditors found there is approximately $29,000 missing from DNSWMA funds. “We have filed a police report with the Sheriff’s office to look into the missing funds”, said Richard Enea, Chairman. Three independent audits were completed. All confirmed approximately $29,000 missing. Any director would ultimately be responsible for missing funds.
In past meetings, people of the public would state during public comment, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
It’s apparent to this reporter that something is definitely broken. It’s about time somebody did something to dig into an organization that has handled their gate in pencil.
This affirmative action of fiscal responsibility by the current board (Mike Sullivan, Roger Gitlin, Rich Enea, Mary Wilson, Rick Holley) comes in sharp contrast to former boards alternately chaired by Martha McClure, Kelly Schellong, Kathryn Murray and Dennis Burns. During those years, the Solid Waste Authority received nearly $400,000/year each year for several years. That grant money ( over $1 million) was supposed to be spent for the benefit of Del Norte County, only to be spent on “consultants” in Sacramento at the approval of the former DNSWA Board. Instead, those monies were spent with a Sacramento outfit on which Kevin Hendrick happens to be a board member and with no apparent direct benefit for Del Norte County. Only $30,000 was spent in our County on the last grant.
This Solid Waste Authority has some of the highest tipping fees in the entire state of California at $141/ton. Supervisor Roger Gitlin has indicated our fees could be reduced to $100/ton should the Solid Waste be privatized and thus fees to users could be reduced. The options for how to handle this level of bureaucracy are still being addressed. It should be noted that although the Ad Hoc committee of 2010 recommended keeping the Joint Powers of Authority (JPA), the Ad Hoc also recommended almost unanimously to making substantial changes to the JPA and to the Solid Waste Authority. Having a JPA is a tool many municipalities utilize when cities and counties want to tackle a common issue.
Having Kevin Hendricks out of the picture will be a reduction of over $100,000/year. However, in negotiating the interim director’s position, Ted Ward is looking for a 5% increase. With Hendricks gone, as well as his $100,000 salary, this is the time to renegotiate the value of this position. A more reasonable payment for the actual work done by someone in this position. Ward’s hope for a 5%increase is not what this situation needs and sounds downright greedy.
In the interim, the services of Rich Taylor, Treasurer, will increase somewhat and he considers it part of his community service to help out. Mr. Taylor current charges $375/month to sign checks and other things. The Board was comfortable with this option.
Further discussion about Ted Ward stepping into the interim director position will be a topic for closed session this coming week.
So gold stars to the current board!
It’s about time.