Solid waste parcel fee rejected

Voters have rejected a parcel fee that would have funded solid waste operations for the next 15 years.

As of Monday, Nov. 14, 5,154 or 68.02 percent of voters had rejected the measure, while 2,423 or 31.98 percent voted yes.

If it had passed, solid waste service would have remained at current levels. Instead, San Juan County will enact “Plan B” and cease to operate local transfer stations.

The county’s designated commercial solid waste hauler, San Juan Sanitation, will continue to offer curbside pickup regulated by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. The company has said it can serve all of the county’s residences, but some may need to place their cans at the end of certain roads instead of at their homes.

San Juan Sanitation has said it is likely curbside pickup costs would go down at least 15 percent due to economies of scale provided by higher volume.

The transfer stations would be made available to private entities to run for profit on a free market basis, with rates not regulated by the WUTC. Under the so-called Plan B, it would become legal for county residents to haul their waste outside the county. The county would continue to charge a 10 percent excise tax on solid waste transactions, and would use that money to pay off its debt.

San Juan Sanitation has also said that recycling rates would be roughly 70 percent of garbage costs, and could be even lower if the county passed an ordinance requiring curbside recycling pickup for homes using curbside trash pickup.

The county has not released a date of when “Plan B” will go into effect.

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