Opinion

If you want to have a say in the future, vote 'Yes' for Prop. 2 | Guest column

By Lovel Pratt

The vote on Proposition No. 2 will decide the fate of solid waste services in San Juan County.

Here are some important points (found in the San Juan County Council’s Resolution 43-2011) related to this ballot measure:

A "Yes" vote will establish a solid waste user charge — aka Plan A — and provide $1 million to $3 million for infrastructure improvements at the San Juan Island solid waste facility that have been a critical need and a top priority for many years.

A "No" vote — aka Plan B — will require that future excise taxes (the taxes collected on all solid waste fees) be used to pay back the approximately $1 million in solid waste program debt, and to cover ongoing administrative expenses and compliance costs associated with decommissioning the Orcas landfill. Remaining excise taxes will be available to pay for existing levels of litter, noxious weeds, beach watchers and household hazardous waste roundups, but will be limited in the amount of funding available for these and other waste disposal and reduction programs.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, the county will consider, and is already considering, agreements for local control of the solid waste facilities by non-profit, public or private entities.

The County Council has unanimously endorsed the user charge as the best way to a sustainable future for a solid waste program with robust self-haul, waste disposal and waste reduction components. The user charge, if approved by the voters, will provide the additional revenue needed to maintain self-haul facilities on three islands, to reinstate solid waste services on additional islands, to pay back the debt, to pay necessary infrastructure improvements and compliance costs, and to maintain and expand waste disposal and reduction programs.

I recognize that there are improvements needed in San Juan County’s solid waste program. The county has a highly qualified and capable new director of Public Works arriving next week, and I am confident that he is up to the challenge.

If voters want to have a say in how solid waste is handled in the future, vote in favor of Proposition 2.  Only if Proposition 2 is approved will there be an option for the county, or another public or non-profit entity, to manage our self-haul facilities with any profits kept in the program to reduce customer costs and/or expand services.

Please join me in voting "Yes" on Proposition 2. Thank you.

Lovel Pratt, chairwoman, San Juan County Council

San Juan Island

 

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