To the Editor:
At the Ukiah City Council meeting on Wednesday, July 3, the Council responded to the Grand Jury report on capping the Vichy Springs landfill (agenda item 13-f). At that time, I heard City Public Works Director, Tim Eriksen, repeatedly say time and time again that he wished he didn't have to cap the landfill site. He talked about seeking waivers from CalRecycle. He said he didn't want to finally close the landfill by capping it, even though the landfill has been not been accepting refuse for 12 years.
Ericson's insistent plea for a waiver at the meeting was echoed by City Councilmember Mari Rodin.
And now, in a front page story in the Ukiah Daily Journal on Friday, July 12, City Manager Jane Chambers has joined the chorus for not finally closing and capping the Vichy Springs landfill.
But let's be clear. The City of Ukiah is out of compliance with state law, and it faces big fines and penalties. The Vichy Springs site was opened in 1954 and has not accepted refuse since September in 2001. However, it has not been permanently closed. It has not been capped. This is a violation of State regulations, Title 27, California Code of Regulations §21110-Time Frame for Closure.
Let's be crystal clear about something else. The CalRecycle regulation requires permanent closure of the site within two years. CalRecycle, LEA (the local enforcement agency acting for CEQA), and the Water Board are all agencies charged with enforcement procedures and the authority to assess penalties, according to Public Resources Codes §45000 and §45023.
Making matters worse, the landfill sits on a web of earthquake faults and in a watershed area. The toxins locked inside the landfill could pop open like a pus explosion in an infected abscess at any given time. The Vichy Springs landfill, incidentally, is built into a hillside, which is not the most stable geology for a landfill. So, let's pray we don't get even a small earthquake tremor in the Vichy Springs area.
My problem with Eriksen, Rodin, and Chambers?
I would like to see the cash balance in the trust fund the City of Ukiah has set up for finally closing the landfill.
I am beginning to suspect the money isn't all there.
In fact, I would like to see the cash balances in all of the City's enterprise funds. In other cities, these enterprise funds include: landfill maintenance special fund, municipal solid waste landfill closure and post-closure trust fund, public utilities trust funds (electric, water, and sewer), building and safety enterprise fund, state sales tax set aside fund, affordable housing trust fund, health insurance fund, transportation trust fund, economic development fund, municipal services district fund, private-purpose trust fund, etc.
I would even go further.
If I were on the Ukiah City Council, I would very much like to undertake a total review of the City's enterprise accounting system. This would include: water and sewer rate studies, an indirect cost analysis, a review of GASB 34 fixed assets, a review of the enterprise fund accounting systems, and a review of systems development charges (impact fees).
I have lost faith in the City of Ukiah.