RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Reversing an earlier vote, the Riverside County supervisors today authorized the county to continue competing for a contract that would import tons of Los Angeles County trash to two landfills east of Riverside.
"If our bid wins, this could create more jobs and revenue for our county," Supervisor Jeff Stone said. "We need to keep our options open. We could always pull our bid back after more analysis."
Last month, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to vacate the county Department of Waste Management's bid to accept up to 225,000 tons of trash annually from Los Angeles County.
Supervisor Marion Ashley led the opposition to the proposal, citing environmental concerns, including the damage of an increased number of heavy trucks going in and out of communities.
Both of the county-operated landfills where the rubbish would be bound -- Lamb Canyon in Moreno Valley and the Badlands dump site near Beaumont -- are in Ashley's district.
Ashley cast the lone dissenting vote today on the decision to resume competing for the L.A. County contract.
"I don't think we should be doing this. It's premature," he warned.
"This needs to be the subject of an environmental assessment. We're setting ourselves up for a lawsuit. Somebody's not going to like this."
The county is offering to take the waste at a cost of $36 a ton over five years, which Stone estimated would generate anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million annually for the county's general fund.
"We can put another six deputies on the street," he said.
In a separate 5-0 vote, the board authorized the transfer of $15.4 million from waste management's reserves to the county general fund in a move whereby the county essentially compensated itself for acquiring and maintaining seven active and 32 inactive landfills.
General fund monies were used until the early 1980s to purchase the land, yet the county never recouped its expenditures through "rent" fees charged to waste management, a county agency. The arrearage amounted to $15.4 million, plus future annual rent payments of $1 million.
According to Stone, waste management's total liquid assets are in the neighborhood of $200 million. The county's general fund reserve is about $150 million.
About $9.5 million of the $15.4 million transfer will go to cover the county's legal liabilities, Stone said.