Elections

Plan on 'Plan B'; voters reject solid waste parcel fee

Big changes await in the disposal of garbage and recycling with voters rejecting Prop. 2 in large numbers in Tuesday
Big changes await in the disposal of garbage and recycling with voters rejecting Prop. 2 in large numbers in Tuesday's early election results.
— image credit: File photo

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

As of Tuesday, 69.5 percent of voters cast a no, while 30.5 percent voted yes. Ballots cast by roughly 50 percent of San Juan County's 11,573 registered voters were counted in the first wave of the Nov. 8 election results.

More ballots are slated to be tabulated Wednesday, according to Auditor Milene Henley, who oversees local elections.

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 directly serve 93 percent of the county's residences, but the rest may need to place their cans at the end of certain roads instead of at their homes. 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. 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.

 

 

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