MERCED COUNTY — Merced County elected officials on Thursday voted unanimously to lay off 10 employees from the countys landfills and change a flat-rate fee policy, both of which were recommended by the waste management authoritys new director.
Brooks Stayer, director of the Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority, made the recommendations two weeks ago in response to a $1.4 million deficit at the two landfills Highway 59 and Billy Wright.
The Merced County Association of Governments governing board Thursday voted in favor of eliminating the positions, which Stayer said saves about $700,000 for the rest of the year. The annual cost-savings are estimated to be $1.1 million per year, he said.
The current 43 landfill employees were offered a $10,000 incentive package to voluntarily resign with the agreement of not reapplying for a job within a year.
If an employee elects to take this option, they would receive the $10,000 and get two weeks of paid leave, said MCAG Executive Director Marjie Kirn during the meeting. We opened it up to all employees.
The incentive money $100,000 total was set aside in the landfills operating budget, Kirn said.
Six employees chose to take the incentive package and resign; the other four will be laid off. They might still be offered the incentive package when theyre notified of the decision, Stayer said.
Stayer said the determining factor for the layoffs is not based solely on employee seniority staff also considered eliminating duplicate positions and looking at employees job performance and attitude.
A complete list of eliminated positions was not available Thursday night, but MCAG officials said it included two scale-house attendants. Staff originally proposed 14 layoffs, but decided not to fill four vacant positions.
Its tough for anyone to get laid off, but I think the majority of them understand the need for the reductions, Stayer said following the meeting. Their reactions were mixed some were happy to get the money. Several are nearing retirement so those employees appreciated it.
Stayer said he was aware of the landfills deficits when he took the job three months ago. They were very upfront when I interviewed that these problems needed to be addressed right away, he said. They were honest about the need for cuts and they knew they were overstaffed.
The board also voted to enforce a policy requiring landfill staff to weigh all loads of garbage from customers rather than automatically charging the $19 flat rate. Weighing each customers load will bring an additional $100,000 per year to the landfills, Stayer said.
They will basically have to pay for the full amount of waste they deliver now, Stayer said during the meeting. Were just capturing the revenue of the tonnage they bring in.
District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo suggested implementing the policy in 30 days to allow the public an opportunity to adjust to the changes. Stayer said his team will work on creating public service announcements and signs to let customers know about the new process.
The good news, Stayer said, is that tonnage levels at the landfills are increasing, which means more revenue. Contracts with Tuolumne County and the city of Turlock to dispose of trash at the Highway 59 landfill are underway.
Turlock brings its garbage to the Highway 59 landfill, which has brought the county $159,000 in revenue since July, according to MCAG spokeswoman Lori Flanders. Stayer said the city wants to partner with Merced County for a 10- to 15-year contract.
Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.