SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY ELECTS OFFICERS, STUDIES REORGANIZATION ISSUES

SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY ELECTS OFFICERS, STUDIES REORGANIZATION ISSUES

District 5 County Commissioner Gilbert T. Apodaca was named chairman Monday of the South Central Solid Waste Authority. Las Cruces City Councilor Jack Valencia was named vice-chairman. The other members are County Commissioners Carlos Garza and Ken Miyagishima and City Councilors John Haltom and Bill Mattiace. County Manager Fernando R. Macias and Interim City Manager Jim Ericson will serve as ex-officio board members.
Apodaca also will work with a subcommittee charged with studying a wholesale reorganization of the solid waste authority. Other members of the committee will be Haltom, Garza, Mattiace, Macias and Ericson, with additional support from various department heads in both county and city government.
The South Central Solid Waste Authority is a quasi-governmental body administered jointly by the county-city board. Its executive director, Ellen Smyth, oversees operation of the Solid Waste Transfer Station in Las Cruces and the Corralitos Landfill west of Las Cruces.
Among the reorganizational issues that will be studied, Apodaca said, are:
* Refinancing the balance of the solid-waste authority’s bond now that the operation is self-sufficient and may no longer need the financial strength of the county and city to secure bonding capacity.
* Absorbing the 10 county employees and 10 city employees who man the transfer station and the landfill into the authority itself in an effort to streamline operations and increase efficiency.
* Transferring all equipment leases and operation to the authority from the city and county.
* Instituting a Payment In Lieu of Taxes plan by which the authority would generate revenue for both the city and county without raising rates, based on more efficient operation.
The South Central Solid Waste Authority was established in 1993 as a regional solution to tightening federal regulations regarding the disposal of solid waste. In 1996, the city and county jointly secured $10.5 million in bonding capacity to lease the Corralitos Landfill and build the transfer station. By 1997, the authority was operating self-sufficiently.
Apodaca said it is in both the county’s and city’s best interests to look closely at a reorganization that will centralize administration of the authority and create revenue streams that can be utilized for enhanced codes enforcement and other needs as identified by both entities.
“The authority is strong enough now that we can reasonably contemplate a reorganization of the county’s and city’s daily roles,” Apodaca said. “I will be working closely with Ellen Smyth and the other board members to insure that such a reorganization is feasible and that it will result in improved efficiency for the public and no adverse impact to the salaries, benefits and retirement plans of any employees who may be affected.”