Jefferson considering first solid-waste fee hike in 20 years

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County is seeking to raise its solid waste disposal fees for the first time in 20 years.

The proposed schedule, which would go into effect in January — or 60 days after approval — would increase transfer station fees and the tonnage rate charged to disposal companies.

Aside from the rate increases, the fees would automatically increase at the same rate of the Consumer Price Index at the beginning of each year, according to the proposal.

Public comment will be taken at a hearing at 11 a.m. Nov. 12 in the Jefferson County commissioners’ meeting room at the county courthouse, 1820 Jefferson St.

Comments also can be submitted in writing until 4 p.m. Nov. 8.

“Costs for us have increased across the board,” said Richard Talbot, the county’s solid waste manager.

“We’ve operated in the red for a few years, but we have depleted our reserves and need to address this now.”

Commissioners were told Monday that the current fee schedule was enacted in 1993.

Currently, those driving to the transfer stations on Jacob Miller Road or in Quilcene at 295312 U.S. Highway 101 now pay a minimum of $4.95 to drop off 80 pounds of garbage, while the new rate will be $10 for a minimum of 140 pounds.

Talbot said the new rates would cause the amount paid for trash collection to increase, but the company contracted for garbage pickup in Port Townsend and unincorporated Jefferson County could not provide estimates of the per-customer cost increase.

“We don’t know what rate the commissioners will approve and will not work up any increase estimates until they come up with a final figure,” said Kent Kovalenko, district manager of DM Disposal.

The county’s per-ton rate collected from disposal services is now $110. That would increase to $139, according to the proposal presented to commissioners Monday.

Talbot said the 2013 budget showed expenses of $2.32 million against revenues of $2.24 million; projected revenues after the increase are $2.46 million.

Talbot said the solid waste division is an “enterprise fund” that does not receive general fund revenues and is expected to be self-sustaining.

The county is accepting public comments about the rate increase proposal, which is viewable at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Solid-Waste-Fees.

Comments on the proposed ordinance can be sent to the Jefferson County commissioners, P.O. Box 1220, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

The rate increase would prompt people to change their habits, Talbot said.

“Some people like to make frequent small trips to get rid of their garbage,” he said.

“They may want to take more trips and bring in larger loads to save money.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 23. 2013 6:52PM
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