John Smith Road Landfill. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.
John Smith Road Landfill. Photo by Jenny Mendolla Arbizu.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Grace Gillio 

Rates at the John Smith Landfill went up July 1. The San Benito County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the increases June 27.

According to the meeting agenda packet, the rate increases reflect the contractual cost-of-living adjustment, authorized under the Landfill Operating Agreement between the County of San Benito and Waste Solutions Group, LLC. The cost of living adjustment is 5.58% this year. 

As for rate increases, solid waste disposal increased from $57 to $62.75 a ton; yard and green waste went from $28 to $33 a ton, and the minimum charge for loads under 382 pounds increased from $11 to $14. All other rates at the landfill remain the same. The agenda packet states the landfill prices are still below those of comparable landfills. 

The rate increases are expected to generate $236,495 in new revenue for Waste Solutions. 

Per the John Smith Road Landfill website, residents can recycle for free the following household materials: mixed paper (including newspaper and cardboard), glass (bottles and jars of all colors), metals (aluminum, tin, and steel cans), plastics (containers #1-#7), and e-waste (computers, TVs, cell phones and other consumer electronics).

The rate increases are nothing new. According to Celina Stotler, Integrated Waste Management manager, the annual cost-of-living adjustment is “to ensure that increases in cost of living do not reduce the operator’s revenue. The increase is either covered by the ratepayers through rate increases or by the county through direct payment. 

The last rate increase approved by the San Benito County Board of Supervisors occurred in 2015, Stotler said. “In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the county made direct payment to the operator for the annual COLA adjustment.”

She added COLA payments to Waste Connections were suspended in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 as part of the 2019 change to the agreement. 

“As of July 1, 2023, this temporary suspension no longer applies,” she said, adding that the 2019 change also reduced some rates. 

The John Smith Landfill is currently accepting only in-county waste because it reached an in-county 15-year capacity threshold. A document can be found on their website for customers to fill out to ensure the waste they are bringing to the landfill is not out-of-county waste. 

The county is considering a plan to expand the landfill from 95 acres to 483 acres. The plan would increase the airspace capacity of the landfill, the total volume of space available for the disposal of waste, from 9.3 million cubic yards to 48 million yards. That would allow the amount of waste accepted to increase from 1,000 tons to 2,300 tons per day.

However, some residents oppose the expansion citing concerns of pollution and increased traffic.

More information about rates and landfill operations is available here.

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