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Public Work proposing increase to land use fees to meet requirements of new state climate bill

Posted at 5:54 AM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 09:06:14-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A new state law geared towards reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases from landfills may cost homeowners when it comes to their land use fees.

In November of 2020, state legislators finalized Senate Bill 1383, a bill meant to reduce the disposal of organic waste by 75 percent by 2025. While the state has set the goalpost, Kern County Public Works says it hasn’t given county officials direction when it comes to the millions of dollars worth of changes required.

"Unfortunately it's very expensive. The processing of materials, there are private guys setting up to do this. They're probably going to bring in a lot of L.A. County waste here, process it here. But even that's more expensive than what we're planning on doing," said Kern County Public Works Director Craig Pope.

To offset these increased costs, Public Works is proposing increasing the yearly fee from $105 to $180.

"We really did spend a lot of time doing that. We mapped out what we thought was the most minimum way we could comply with the law, and then we said what's the most cost-effective way to go about that," Pope said.

These fees will go towards keeping public works compliant with the new law — including $20 million to construct a compost facility in the Shafter-Wasco landfill, and $10 million towards improving existing equipment and new technology.

But some locals are concerned about the increase.

Butch Swen works as a waste pickup contractor for Bakersfield City Public Works. He says he understands that this increase could be difficult for locals to manage and questions whether public works has considered all their options.

"Raising it $75 at one time, when it's only $105 now, that's a little ridiculous," Swen said. "With [the cost of] everything going up, the food going up, fuel going up and everything else, that's a pretty large increase."

Pope says they’ve been working for years to put together a cost-effective plan, but they don’t have much time.

"We've been looking hard at it since 2020, but we haven't found a better answer yet," Pope said.

Public Works will be holding a public hearing on January 4 to discuss the proposal. the hearing will be held at 2 p.m. at the County Administrative Center on 1115 Truxtun Avenue.