Letters to the Editor

It may be time to privatize the county's solid waste operation

I write to express my extreme dissatisfaction with the inefficient operation of our dump.

We pay the highest dump rates in the state for a Public Works Department that provides the worst service in the state. There are long lines the three days the dump is open to the public, yet no lines the days the dump is open to commercial vendors.

The county charges the public about $240 a ton, but their costs are only about $90 to dispose of the trash. With these margins, the county should be able to operate the dump more than three days a week.

The question is: Why is the county doing this to its taxpayers? It is trying to force citizens to open their arms to mandatory pickup? Or, are county officials simply incompetent or mishandling Public Works funds? I think the public deserves a formal audit of the operation.

Public Works and the county have been on a spending spree the last few years. They bought a contaminated site for more than the appraised value, and then spent $3 million to build a pier on Orcas. They probably paid more for the pier than it was worth, and for what reason?

We, the citizens, are the ones who suffer in the end.

It is time to privatize the dump and put it out to bid to local contractors. A private company would be able to run the facility more efficiently, and provide better service and additional tax revenue for the county. Maybe we should think about privatizing the entire Public Works Department and other county operations as well.

I would like to add that the workers at the dump did a great job in handling up to 200 vehicles the last two Sundays. They handled the traffic the best they could, and kept a good disposition considering the long lines and tough conditions they regularly face.

Bob Levinson
San Juan Island

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