Did SLO County contractor pocket collected sales tax?

January 23, 2019

By Cal Coast Times Staff

A former contractor with intimate connections to San Luis Obispo’s County’s scandal-ridden waste disposal agency habitually collected sales tax on items he sold to the agency, then appears to have failed to remit those taxes as required, according to state, county, and city records. [Cal Coast Times]

At the same time, contractor Charles K. Tenborg was billing the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA), a public entity, for trucks and other materials for his private business. Even though some of the purchases exceeded $60,000, they were made without board approval, according to IWMA records.

IWMA Program manager Patti Toews said last week that Tenborg regularly charged the IWMA sales tax.

In one illustrative July 2016 example, one of Tenborg’s companies, the Cleaner Earth Company, charged the IWMA $21,541 for used hypodermic needle containers, and collected $1,566 earmarked as San Luis Obispo city sales tax.

However, San Luis Obispo received no sales tax from the Cleaner Earth Company in 2016, according to Jon Ansolabehere, an assistant city attorney.

California’s Department of Tax and Fee Administration approved a seller’s permit for Cleaner Earth Company in July 2012. Sellers pay the sales tax to the state, which then sends the municipality their allocated share.

Charles Tenborg

Tenborg did not respond to a reporter’s efforts to contact him for comment.

The IWMA is the result of a joint powers authority (JPA) between the county and its seven cities, representatives of which make up the agency’s governing board.

Rampant spending of public funds by the agency’s former manager William Worrell, other employees, and contractors has resulted in an ongoing criminal investigation by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office. Worrell then retired, suddenly and early.

IWMA’s board made little effort at oversight of the questionable expenditures over the last decade, according to former member Tim Brown.

One issue currently under examination is the IWMA’s purported authorization for purchase of trucks and equipment for Tenborg’s companies.

IWMA Administrator Bill Worrell and legal counsel Ray Biering listening to allegations of misappropriation of funds

Since 2008, the IWMA has passed eight ordinances, the legality of which is now being questioned. Many of those ordinances resulted in a steady income stream for Tenborg’s companies.

In 2008, the IWMA passed an ordinance mandating a hypodermic needle waste disposal program. According to the ordinance, the cost associated with the handling and disposal of the home-generated needles was to be borne by both the user and the retailer providing the needles. The ordinance specifically prohibits government monies, including government grants, to be spent on the handling and disposal of needles.

Nevertheless, the IWMA purchased used needle containers from Tenborg for the program, according to IWMA records.

The 2008 ordinance also provided that retailers could utilize private or nonprofit businesses to dispose of the sharps. But instead, the IWMA set appointments for Tenborg’s companies to pick up the needles, billed the retailers, and then provided Tenborg’s companies the payments.

In 2018, the IWMA board — even while confronting the agency’s misappropriated fund problem — passed a “stewardship” ordinance requiring retailers to use only IWMA approved companies to transport their needles.

The IWMA may not even have the legal authority to pass ordinances. The California Constitution grants only cities and counties the power to pass ordinances —  not joint powers authorities such as SLO County’s IWMA.


In a document, the California State Legislature explains JPAs and their authorities. While they can pass bonds, each member city, county and district board must pass their own ordinances first. I wonder if the attorney involved, Ray Biering, knew the law but decided to fudge. He was also the attorney for the SLO APCD, also a joint powers agreement, but they never passed any ordinances.


Yeah, the APCD did it right, they steal their money legally, paying most of their employees over $100,000 and the top thief over, what was it $250,000. All legal don’t you know.


Damn straight he knew it. He and Seitz were two of the most corrupt lawyers around, “representing” the corrupt malfeasants at the Sanitation District, APCD, and IWMA, drafting all kinds of self-dealing documents and dodges, all approved by their (at best) inept boards.


these people are all about money..money money money, it’s what they love, and they do not care about the people.


Years ago HowardJarvis said this is the most corrupt county in the state. The only change is it has gotten worse. Just show me any appointed council that does have have to answer to the voters and I will show you corruption about to happen.


Howard Jarvis and many others…where are the authorities?????? All looking the other way???? Why?????


Right on CCN, you’re back in the game. I wonder if Tenborg will come after you again, and if so lose big time.


Public corruption is rampant in SLO County, with most attached to Supervisor Adam Hill. Hill sits on the board of the IWMA and is a friend of Charles Tenborg. Because of the district attorney’s failures to charge John Wallace following the grand jury report, the DA could only charge for crimes not outdated because of statutes of limitations. How can the DA’s office be trusted to do a comprehensive investigation into these issues when again local politicians and those connected few are involved?


Adam Hill kept Grover Beach mayor Jeff Lee as chair for 3 years because he controls Lee. Lee is a county employee and wants to keep his job.


Bring in the IRS and the State Franchise Tax Board. Full audits.


More fleecing of the good citizens money or poor record-keeping?


Both. They go hand-in-hand.


Hoyt Axton says it all…


Where does the buck stop? The elected representatives who aren’t representing us – the board, and the district attorney. No doubt more will surface in this quagmire of corruption and deceit. Bring in the feds – PLEASE! Bring in the State DA.