County faces $300,000 claim

Island County’s waste hauler is claiming that the county is not giving it enough garbage.

Houston-based Waste Management, which has contracted with the county since 1992, is alleging that the minimum weight requirements for the containers of waste it hauls to a landfill in Arlington, Ore., is not being met.

“From their point of view, they ship each container and it costs them a certain amount to get that container from Seattle to Oregon,” County Public Works Director Bill Oakes said. “It costs a flat rate for the container, but they get paid by the ton.”

The county pays $85 per ton and the minimum weight for the containers is 25 tons. Both the county and Waste Management have known about the problem since 2000, but the company filed the claim only recently.

Oakes said that the county did not fix the problem because the company did not make it an issue.

“That gets into why I think we can fight the claim,” he said. “But I can’t really talk about that.”

Solid Waste Manager Dave Bonvouloir said that the problem originated with the closure of the county’s landfill for construction debris. All of the trash from construction now has to be crushed and hauled along with the county’s household garbage.

“The problem with demolition debris is it’s a lot lighter that trash,” Bonvouloir said. “You’re taking up space in a container that doesn’t weigh very much.”

Oakes said that the opening of tipping stations, which allow people to go to the dump with their every-day vehicles and throw trash into open-top containers, has also contributed to the problem.

The open-top containers are compacted with a backhoe and are not packed tightly enough to make weight, Oakes said.

“This is just one of the wrinkles,” Bonvouloir said. “Every contract has wrinkles in it.”

Oakes said that the county will probably end up settling with Waste Management and paying the claim. The funds will come from the reserves solid waste has set aside.

“Both sides knew (the containers) weren’t making weight,” Oakes said. “We didn’t think they were going to raise this as a claim.”

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