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Streamlining of Sanitation Operations Projected : Trash: In a 400-page report, a consultant forecasts fewer jobs and salary reductions if two agencies are consolidated.

September 17, 1993|SARA CATANIA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An efficiently run countywide trash authority would cut 10 to 15 jobs, reduce some salaries and eliminate overlapping operations at Ventura County's two trash agencies, a study released Thursday said.

A Sacramento-based consultant handed out copies of the nearly 400-page report and summarized its findings for members of the county's Waste Commission, which is charged with setting up a Waste Authority outlined by recent state legislation.

"This is a full, comprehensive system that the authority could use from the first day it begins operation," said Clayton E. Brown, president of Ralph Anderson & Associates.

The proposed authority is aimed at ending parochial trash disputes and helping the county and its 10 cities cut in half the trash dumped in landfills within the next seven years.

If approved by the county and at least seven cities, the new authority would have the power to locate and run landfills and recycling facilities, and set trash rates for all county residents.

In preparing their analysis, Brown and his staff conducted extensive interviews with employees and distributed 16-page questionnaires to all 117 trash workers employed at the Ventura Regional Sanitation District and County Solid Waste Management Department.

The sanitation district operates two county landfills, while the county department is responsible for setting trash policies and ensuring compliance with state and federal rules. Most of the two agencies' functions would be consolidated in the new authority.

The study presents two possible management structures, and recommends maintaining the 70 positions at the Toland and Bailard landfills. It suggests cutting 10 to 15 positions from management and office staff, saving up to $750,000.

To devise a pay scale for the new authority, Brown averaged the salaries of comparable jobs at the two existing agencies.

Under the present system, sanitation district employees are generally paid more than workers at the county department. As a result of consolidation, some of the district's 100 employees would take a pay cut, while some of the 17 workers in the county department would get a raise, according to the plan.

For example, senior engineers with the district make about $66,900. They would lose $7,860 a year.

County-employed senior engineers pull in about $51,160; their salaries would jump $7,880.

The study recommends that the new authority's top official be paid an annual salary of $101,028, slightly more than the sum paid to Clint Whitney, general manager of the sanitation district. Kay Martin, director of the County Solid Waste Management Department, makes $68,750 annually.

The commission, made up of elected officials from the county and each of the cities, agreed to scrutinize the report and discuss it at the next meeting Oct. 14.

Some city officials expressed concern that the study's staff cuts may not go deep enough.

"If we can lop off a whole damn department, let's do it," Oxnard Councilman Michael Plisky said. "But I want to do it in a way that's not cruel to anyone."

Ventura City Councilman Gary Tuttle concurred: "Obviously, it's too soon to know for sure, but I'm going to be taking a real close look to make sure we're not hanging on to unnecessary bureaucracy."

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