Clallam County commissioners set April 8 hearing on waste flow ordinance

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — After months of debate, Clallam County commissioners have scheduled a public hearing to consider an ordinance that would funnel most solid waste to the Port Angeles Regional Transfer Station.

The ordinance, city officials said, would reassure bondholders and help the city finance revenue bonds to remove a landfill cell in danger of slipping into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The three commissioners Tuesday set the public hearing for April 8.

Most solid waste generated in the county already goes to the transfer station at 3501 W. 18th St.

The ordinance would require that non-medical waste generated east of Fairholme go to the facility on the west side of the city.

The main purpose of the ordinance is to improve the city's bond rating. It would result in savings of $1.5 million or $2 million, depending on whether the bonds have 20- or 25-year terms.

“It's a substantial savings over the life of the bond,” Clallam County Public Works Administrative Director Bob Martin told commissioners Monday.

The city, which has already secured $3.9 million in financial assistance from the state Department of Ecology, needs another $15.7 million in bonds to complete the bluff stabilization project, officials have said.

Commissioner Mike Chapman raised objections to the city taking on more debt to finance the project when the county ordinance was discussed in meetings in January and February.

Chapman put the item on this week's agenda's after he, Martin and County Administrator Jim Jones met with city officials last week to review the financing package.

Chapman, a Port Angeles resident, said his concerns were eased by a comprehensive debt policy that is being drafted in City Hall.

“I appreciate Mayor [Dan] Di Guilio's leadership on that issue,” Chapman said.

“He assured me it is a priority.”

If the county does not approve a flow control ordinance, user fees at the transfer station will continue to rise over the long term, Martin said.

That would produce more incentive for county residents to haul their waste to cheaper facilities, such as in Kitsap County, he said.

“Right now, I don't think very many people are taking a lot of waste outside of the county,” Martin told commissioners.

“I think any of it that's going out is incidental. In the future, if we have a large-scale demolition project, as we did with the Kmart, for example, all of that is likely to go out of the county, as it did with Kmart.

“So that would represent a future loss of revenue that would be detrimental to the system.”

Commissioner Mike Doherty has said the proposed ordinance doesn't go far enough to encourage recycling.

Martin said the ordinance would encourage recycling and the recovery of demolition debris by keeping fees down and reducing incentive for hauling waste off the Peninsula.

“I think it gives incentive for somebody to step in and say, 'Maybe we should talk about demolition debris recovery instead of sending it to the transfer station,'” Martin said.

The Port Angeles Regional Transfer Station charges about $170 per ton.

Clallam County's proposed flow control ordinance is similar to one the City Council approved unanimously Feb. 4.

Garbage picked up on the curb through the city's contract with Waste Connections already goes to the transfer station.

Under an interlocal agreement that created the transfer station, Clallam County would share in the responsibility if the facility doesn't produce enough revenue to cover its operating costs, Jones said.

Jones on Monday recommended that commissioners call the hearing and consider a flow control agreement for the county's “own best interests.”

He cautioned that the county would share in the responsibility if the transfer station can't cover its operating costs.

Commissioner Jim McEntire asked staff for an analysis of the fees before and after a flow control ordinance.

He said he was “still stuck on this notion of unintended consequences” of flow control.

“I don't want to leave any stone unturned when it comes to trying to figure out the best alternative that minimizes the cost increase for ratepayers,” McEntire said.

“Because that's really what all this comes down to.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 18. 2014 7:16PM
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