CITIES' LANDFILL LAWSUIT SETTLED.
A settlement has been reached in Fillmore and Santa Paula's joint lawsuit against the Ventura Regional Sanitation District over the expansion of the Toland Road Landfill.
The deal became final Monday after the Santa Paula City Council voted 4-0 in closed session to approve the settlement. Among other provisions, the settlement agreement calls for a one-time payment of $307,000 by the sanitation district to be split between the two cities.
Most important is not the details of the arrangement, but the fact that animosity between the district and two of its member agencies can be put to rest, said Judy Lazar, the district's chairwoman.
``That was really of primary importance to us,'' Lazar said. ``Nobody wants to be in a lawsuit with its members. It's not a happy place to be.''
Bill Smith, the district's general manager, echoed those sentiments.
``These are two of our members,'' Smith said. ``We want to have as good a relationship with them as possible.''
The settlement was the product of a series of meetings between the agencies to hash out an agreement, said Murray Warden, Santa Paula's city manager. Part of the discussion centered on how much money the cities would receive, he said.
``We probably wanted more,'' Warden said. ``We got enough to keep us happy.''
Santa Paula's $153,500 will go into the city's general fund, he said.
In closed sessions, the settlement was approved by the VRSD's board of directors Nov. 20 and the Fillmore City Council on Nov. 25.
Fillmore, Santa Paula and other agencies that send their trash directly to the Toland Road Landfill pay a $23-a-ton dumping fee. But any agency that sends its trash from a transfer station pays just $18 a ton.
As a result of the settlement, the sanitation district agreed to work to reduce or eliminate that $5 discrepancy, and will rebate the difference to the cities through Aug. 25, 2001.
In return, the cities agreed to drop their lawsuits and withdraw all their regulatory appeals against the project within 10 days.
The settlement also provides for disposal priority at Toland of up to 135 tons a day to Santa Clara Valley customers.
That means that until 2:30 p.m. every day, the two cities have 135 tons of space reserved for them at the landfill, which is popular because its fees are comparatively inexpensive.
``At $18 a ton, you can't beat the rate,'' Lazar said.
Since the expansion began, Santa Paula has been using the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Los Angeles, but now will immediately use Toland.
The Toland Road Landfill is 4.5 miles west of Fillmore and 4.5 miles northeast of Santa Paula, about 1.5 miles north of Highway 126. It opened in 1970 to serve Fillmore, Santa Paula and the unincorporated part of the county.
On Aug. 26, 1996, its expansion replaced the Bailard Landfill near Oxnard.
The expansion previously had been approved by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, the California Integrated Waste Management Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The expansion increased dumping at the landfill to 1,500 tons a day, up from 135 tons a day. The project is expected to increase the lifetime capacity of the landfill to 15 million tons over 30 years.
Lawsuits against the project filed by the Santa Clara Elementary School District and local growers remain pending.