Mandatory garbage pickup moves ahead

Jeff Hegedus speaking at the PRCAC meeting on February 13.                            Photo by Pat Grubb

By Pat Grubb

Aiming for a January 1, 2019 implementation date, county health department staffers Jeff Hegedus and John Wolpers updated the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) members on the latest steps being taken to establish a mandatory trash collection system for the Point.

At the committee’s regular meeting on February 13, Hegedus said, “I’ve looked at the All Point Bulletin as far back as 2001 and we’re still talking about the same problems [of handling solid waste].” Referring to development in Tsawwassen and in Point Roberts itself, Hegedus said it made sense to implement such a system before development actually occurs.

Hegedus reiterated to the audience that the current system of allowing residents exemptions from garbage pickup needed to be repealed. “In Whatcom County, it is the law that people must have curbside collection. What we’re proposing to do is to eliminate the exemption,” he said. Dropping the exemption will increase the number of customers to create a viable system in the long run, he stated. The increased customer base “… would provide significantly improved economy of scale, support cost structures, enable higher service levels and reduce illegal dumping,” according to the health department’s proposed recommendation to Whatcom County Council shared by Hegedus at the PRCAC meeting.

The health department projects that the customer base would increase from 300 to almost 2,300 customers. All properties that are currently assessed an onsite septic system permit fee on their annual property tax bill would be required to participate; that number currently stands at 2,254.

All properties would be charged for a minimum service level of every other week, 32-gallon container plus recycling collection. That level of service now costs $17.18 a month ($206.16 annually) as per the approved Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) tariff. Customers who require higher levels of service would be charged directly by Cando Recycling and Disposal, as they do presently.

Hegedus pointed out that Cando has not had an increase in rates for eight years and could expect to see its customer base decline should the UTC grant an increase in the future. The company expects to request an increase as part of the system restructuring as it will need to hire more employees and purchase new equipment and infrastructure to handle increased business. “I’m looking at putting out a couple of hundred thousand dollars in expenditures,” said Cando owner David Gellatly, adding he would need at least three months’ head start in gearing up.

According to an analysis provided to the All Point Bulletin by Gellatly, a rate review based upon increases in the Consumer Price Index since 2010 would result in a monthly rate of $19.81 for the minimum service level. While the UTC uses a variety of measures to determine rates, that figure would fall in line with what other solid waste handlers in Whatcom County and elsewhere currently charge.

Addressing the issue of summer and part-time residents being required to pay for year-round service, Hegedus pointed out that people aren’t being charged by the can, they’re being charged an annual fee for a service. For that fee, “they get all of the benefits of having a stable system.” People should consider the service analogous to the water district in that they pay for it even if they’re not here, he suggested. “That applies to lots of services: police, water and schools.” He also pointed out that people north of the border pay for garbage collection through their taxes and continue to pay for it even when they aren’t home.

Dropping the exemption for trash pickup requires changing Whatcom County Code Title 8, Chapter 11 which deals with solid waste districts. The change would come before county council who would hold a public hearing before voting on it. PRCAC members spent a good amount of time discussing the need to ensure the public was aware of the proposal and given ample opportunity to comment. A public hearing would not occur until the summer at the earliest.

Under other business, Jeff Christopher was elected chair, Joel Lantz vice-chair, Linda Hughes secretary for 2018.

  1. Point Roberts Town Hall Meeting video online.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7ZvUDxSEl8
    Check is out and see there were many people not wanting more curbside. There were also many people who use the Uhaul method and pay just as much as curbsiders. They don’t want to loose their Uhaul option. People will to contribute to a system if that system supports their needs, not more unwanted garbage trucks scaring kids and wild life on private lanes. Make a prepaid 12 or 6 month option or Uhaul option that credits their account ( like BC ferries experience card)

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  2. Prince Edward Island has options for Seasonal Curbside.
    Positive stuff that addresses our communities unique needs like options for seasonal residents would help our community support each other and bring us together. Having options for the mandatory fees go towards Uhaulers credit on their on line account would also be a simple fix. So mandatory fee but lets have at least three options Yearly fee Full time $200, seasonal May to Oct $150 and Uhaul credits $200 SIMPLE PLAN that serves our needs
    32 gallon container no more then 50 lbs. plus recycling bin picked up twice a month for those Crusaders
    Uhaulers have the credit on their account that gets deducted as used at transfer station. Takes cash out of the system less lines ups. Option to top up Uhauler account on line with credit card online.
    Check out Prince Edward Island Options
    https://www.iwmc.pe.ca/residentialwwfee.php

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  3. I guess I’m the only socialist here who doesn’t care about paying $200 a year for garbage pick up?

    I’m also paying taxes that support the schools I’ll never use and I’m not complaining. If you can afford a second summer home you can afford to pay the local taxes for the services of the residents. We don’t need to nickel and dime and count the chips so closely, do we?

    I don’t get the big fuss.

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  4. Wonder if I refuse to pay. I’m not paying. For a service I’m not useing. I have two properties you think I will pay twice ??? I think I might use my well too.

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  5. Like everybody I really don’t like paying for something I don’t need,can’t use,won’t likely work anyways and hate change. Same as everyone and also the same as most, can’t vote because..Point Roberts Is unique. Because it is unique the folks running things tried a unique solution and apparently it’s not working for some one. Figure out how to make it work well for everyone may be a bit difficult but surely all the parties involved if engaged in a reasonable manner should be able to do that. Think grandfathering, Seniors discount, new residents get new system and rates, raise (or lower) per pound rates for those of us that will miss weekly pick ups because of many reasons, If raised to cover costs…no monthly fees etc.I could go on.
    Article mentions APB columns or letters going back to 2001. I remember us all confused when they actually opened up the new dump and locked gate and the talk that went on. (talk being a nice term)
    Oh and I forgot to add.. find out how much it actually costs to get our garbage off the Point and ensure contractor makes some money. But not too much. 🙂

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  6. What ever happened to “taxation without representation is tyranny”? The county is going to stuff a new tax down the throats of the non-voting residents. An increase of 2000 households? More like an increase of 2000 summer houses that will not have any trash to be picked up 9 months out of the year. The county is right: this is just like water, the other service that non-residents are being screwed on.

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  7. Here we go again. Create a system that no one wants and will not work. As a part time visiter, on a private road we have an issue. The garbage truck will not come down our road for curb side pickup. If I leave my cans up on APA until they are picked up, I suspect the raccoons will tip them over and you are going to have garbage strewn everywhere. This will not work. I do not oppose paying for garbage disposal, but give us a system that has a chance of working.

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  8. Just a few thoughts to ponder on the new forced garbage pickup in the Point. As I already have to pay 13.5 cents per lb I wonder how much per pound it will rise to now that many people will have to pay for garbage that will not have to be collected as they don’t reside permanently on the Point. Another thing I am curious about is the amount of money the county is charging for the lease of the publicly owned transfer station. If it is still a nominal fee being paid by waste company then perhaps that should change to reflect the new garbage regime and maybe that money could stay in the community for much needed infrastructure improvements. I am sure everyone is in agreement that the dumping of garbage on our streets was a problem but it was mostly large items and not really household garbage you will still have to pay to get rid of these large items. It seems to me that most of the benefit of this mandatory pickup is one sided and lastly I don’t really like to hear the quote “The county is forcing me to become a millionaire.”

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  9. I have property with a septic system but no livable building on the property. Why should I have to pay for garbage pick up?

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  10. I don’t live in Point Roberts but I have had a cabin on the Point for 15 years. I happily use garbage tickets. I buy them six of them a couple times a year and use the system when I have a full can of garbage for pick up. If I need recycling picked up, I use an extra ticket. Every time I speak to people about the ticket system – people are surprised and have never heard of it. Isn’t this something the county could consider? If each person was required to buy 24 tickets – they could use 12 for recycle and 12 for garbage – or 24 for garbage. But then the hauler wouldn’t be gearing up for garbage that I’m not going to be creating! If we are creating a system that people aren’t going to use, isn’t that also a problem?

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    • Wow count me as a person who doesn’t know about the tickets. Can you elaborate? We just got a place there and are not there full time. Making sure we are there on Sundays when the dump is open- is a problem. Thanks Sharon

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  11. I already resent having to pay for water that I don’t use , and now trash that I don’t put out. I get it but for someone who perhaps spends less than a month a year at our place it still makes it the most expensive trash ever. Thanks so much! How about a seasonal summer rate of 4 months????

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  12. The problem for us is that I spend $19.81 every 2.5 months to bring my trash/recycling directly to the dump. Not a very fair solution for retirees.

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