Letters to the Editor

County Councilman Myhr opposes $5 fee for recycling

Last week, I vigorously and vociferously opposed the action of the County Council to charge $5 for "recycling only" trips to our transfer stations. I consider the council action to be totally inconsistent with everything we have heard from our citizens, a complete reversal of our county policy to encourage recycling, and, especially, will not address the serious revenue shortfall in our solid waste system.

On Aug. 31, 2010, the council voted 5-1, with myself in opposition, to impose a $5 "gate fee" applicable to all "recyclable only" trips to our transfer stations. (The fee would not apply if the trip also included disposal of garbage.) The purpose of the fee is to raise $240,000 to pay for "stopgap" funding of operations to the end of 2011 and to raise an additional $160,000 for capital funding. (80,000 "recyclable only" trips X $3 = $240,000; and 80,000 X $2 = $160,000).

Instead, this fee will significantly reduce recycle trips to the dump, and, therefore, not raise the projected revenue and simply change disposal behavior. People will only go to the dump when they bring along garbage and avoid the fee. Those that do decide to go will meet longer traffic lines while people wait to pay. It further penalizes the small, self-haulers going to the dump who already pay 50 percent more per ton than curbside haulers.

I am urging the council to reconsider the ill-advised $5 fee. To pay for recycling, I advocate further cost cutting and a small garbage rate increase ($1 per can and $37 per ton) which would affect everyone. It would keep recycling free, bring more revenues from the curbside haulers (that still pay 50% less the self-haulers), and would be much more likely to raise what is needed for the stopgap measure of raising $240,000 for operations.

Recycling does cost money, but the $5 gate fee for recyclables is not the way to capture that cost or raise revenue. It will not work!

Bob Myhr
San Juan County Council member
Lopez and Shaw islands

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