Tahoe district delays vote on mandating bear-proof containers
March 17, 2014
A earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the vote to table the issue was 4-1, with Jim Hammerel against. The vote was indeed unanimous. The Bonanza regrets the error.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Amid catcalls of "no" and "we don't" from several residents, the IVGID board on Wednesday delayed voting on a mandatory wildlife-resistant trash container law.
"I feel like we're acting like a pendulum here, and (if we vote in the law) we're swinging the pendulum the whole other way," said Incline Village General Improvement District trustee Bill Devine. "There are more questions that keep coming up that we can't answer; we need to look at this a lot closer."
Devine's comments came after trustee Jim Hammerel asked the board to approve an upgraded trash ordinance. Hammerel has vocally promoted stricter trash laws for several months in an effort to solve growing cases of human-bear conflicts in the community.
Hammerel said the law — which would require new wildlife-resistant Dumpsters for the community's some 300 commercial properties and wildlife-resistant totes for its 8,000 parcels — is the best solution for Incline Village.
"I don't think we're rushing into this," he said.
Board chairman Joe Wolfe disagreed, saying incoming General Manager Steve Pinkerton — whose first day is April 28 — should weigh in on potential changes before a vote.
"We should not be doing this, we should be waiting for Mr. Pinkerton to get here," Wolfe said. "We need to rethink it and redo it and make sure it's correct before we pull the trigger."
Trustees eventually voted 5-0 to table the issue.
As proposed, the law would increase monthly trash rates for most commercial properties by $19.67, while resident rates for most would go up about 30 percent.
It also includes provisions for streamlined recycling and pine needle collection, and steeper fines for first- ($500) and second-time ($999) offenders who fail to properly secure trash.
"This is the right thing to do … and this is the right time," said Incline resident Pablo Ortega, who was among three residents who urged the board to vote in the new law. "Basically, we're murdering the bears; they are being led in here by our garbage. This is the right side of history — and people aren't going to care less about the bears, they're only going to care more about the bears."
Roughly 75 people attended the standing room-only meeting at the IVGID board room. In all, 24 residents offered comment, with a majority asking the board to hold off.
"My gut feeling is … this proposal is being driven by a couple trustees and not by staff," said Crystal Bay resident Paul Reynolds. "This ordinance very much relates to the federal government and Obamacare … you are forcing me to buy a product I do not want."
What was not proposed to be voted on Wednesday — but still is on the table — is a 10-year contract extension into 2027 with Waste Management, IVGID's current trash-service provider. Had the new law been approved, the next step before enforcement this summer was to finalize a new contract for trustees to approve in April.
Several residents and trustees questioned why the board would vote to mandate trash containers before finalizing a contract that would ultimately determine their price and how they would be maintained.
"It seems to me that if we go through with (voting in the new law), that we're pretty much locked into the agreement," Devine said. "I don't see how we have any room to negotiate."
With Wednesday's vote to delay, no timeline exists as to when the contract or the new laws will be voted on again.