Cimarron, The Exchange go head-to-head in Orcas transfer station derby

By Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter

The saga continues, the dream is still alive, and hope springs eternal.

Organizers of the Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District put the finishing touches on both a budget and a proposed tax package, responding to intense questions from the County Council and believe that the two are now ready for final scrutiny by the council on Tuesday, July 24, and for the judgement of Lopez voters in November.

"We're very confident that the budget and tax proposal is solid," said Larry Eppenbach, Lopez district board member and former financial executive for the state of Alaska.

Describing the process of building a budget as "meticulous" and the council's questioning as "beneficial in sharpening our focus," Eppenbach said the operating board was ready to ask his fellow Lopezians to vote to bring the Lopez dream to reality.

"We've done this right," said Eppenbach, "we asked the people of Lopez to trust us, and we know we have to continue building that trust."

Unless the council balks as some of the district's budget numbers, the council will send the group's tax proposal, a 9.5 cents per 1,000 property tax levy, to the elections office for the November ballot. If approved, the increase would raise about $100,000 of the total $414,577 budget that the county council is expected to approve on Tuesday.

He thinks they'll support it.

Following its review of the district budget and tax package, the council will review two bids received July 18 in response to the county's request for proposals for private operation of the Orcas Island transfer station.

Mark De Tray, executive director of the Orcas Exchange, hopes that the proposal of Orcas Recycling Services, the non-profit that runs The Exchange on Orcas, will receive the trust of the Vendor Selection Committee, a council-appointed ad hoc group which will recommend which of two bidders should operate the Orcas transfer station.

The vendor selection committee consists of Steve Alexander and Russ Harvey of the county's Solid Waste Division, Jeff Strothers and Lisa Byers of Orcas Island, and council Chairwoman Patty Miller of Orcas.

De Tray said that Orcas Recycling Services "has the coordinating capacity and core principles" to meet the needs of the county and the objectives of Washington state's "Beyond Waste Plan", which he says includes "reuse and waste reduction" in addition to handling, transport and disposal of solid waste.

Cimarron Trucking Company of Anacortes, the present contract hauler for solid waste from Orcas, is the other company in the competition.

Blair Estenson, Cimarron's president, says his company "is ready to go."

Estenson said that Cimarron "knows what it's doing, we've got the equipment and we've already agreed with San Juan Sanitation to continue" to bring their curbside pickup garbage trucks to Orcas.

Estenson also said, "we'll work with the Exchange" to continue "the valuable services they provide to Orcas Island."

And San Juan Island? The county's request for proposals to operate the Sutton Road transfer station is finished and ready for publication. The deadline for submission of bids will be Oct. 1, 2012, and Public Works Director Frank Mulcahy thinks private operation of the San Juan Island transfer station "may happen sometime in 2013."


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