Commissioners approve rate increase for solid waste disposal

Next year there will be increases in the rates county residents pay for the disposal of solid waste.

Come next year, there will be increases in the rates that Island County residents pay for the disposal of solid waste at county dump sites.

This week, Island County commissioners approved a 4.6% increase in solid waste tipping fees, also known as user fees. This change does not affect residential trash collection or septage fees.

Last month during a work session, the commissioners discussed the possibility of changing the rate structure.

Assistant Public Works Director Fred Snoderly wrote in a memo to the commissioners that high inflation rates are affecting services provided.

“Due to these high rates of inflation, labor, materials, equipment, transportation, disposal, recycling and other expenses are outpacing revenue,” he wrote. “Essential services will be impacted and potentially curtailed if the enterprise fund is depleted.”

The county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee met in September and unanimously agreed to recommend that the solid waste tipping fee and associated rates be adjusted annually for inflation. In addition, the committee recommended that a rate study be conducted every five years.

The adjustment recommendation is based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for the “Garbage and Trash Collection Services” expenditure category. That rate was 4.6% from April 2021 to April 2022.

With the 4.6% increase, the current base solid waste tipping fee of $155 per ton would be adjusted to $162.13 per ton, starting on Jan. 1, 2023.

The change to the rate structure would affect other types of waste, such as the cost of dumping household appliances, tires and yard debris.

During that work session, Commissioner Jill Johnson pointed out that the proposed increased rates could help fund a new trash compactor that would allow the county to have a more environmentally-friendly transfer station.

“I want that compactor so bad and this allows us to save up for it faster,” she said, adding that half-full loads “full of air” means a need for more trucks.

The 4.6% increase was unanimously approved during a regular session this past Tuesday in a 2-0 vote. Johnson was absent from the meeting.

No members of the public offered their input on the issue during the meeting.

Commissioner Melanie Bacon asked if it was possible that septage tipping fees might be due for an increase in 2023. In response, Snoderly said yes.