County council votes 5-2 in favor of waste pickup proposal

PRCAC chair Jeff Christopher speaks to county council at their regular meeting on June 5. / Photo by Dee Gough

Editor’s Note: This article has been revised and edited from the version originally posted at 5:53 p.m.

By Meg Olson

Whatcom County Council has approved changes to county code that will eliminate exemptions to mandatory garbage pickup in Point Roberts.

At their June 5 meeting council heard from an almost evenly split 15 community members on the proposal, which would establish a mandatory minimum service level of a 32-gallon can of garbage to be picked up twice-monthly and billed through the property tax roll.

Opponents of the proposal cited a number of reasons for their opposition, primarily that the minimum service level was too high. “This exceeds the needs of 80 percent of those surveyed (in a 2016 online survey sponsored by the county solid waste division) who self haul or use tags,” Kimberly Butts said.

Ken Calder, also opposed to the changes, submitted a petition signed by 364 seasonal and full-time residents asking that council delay the decision until September to allow a recently formed solid waste subcommittee of the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee to continue to look at the issue.

Those in favor of the change as well as county staff pointed out that PRCAC had been pondering the garbage collection for over two years, held numerous public meetings, sponsored an online survey and sent out a mailer. “There have been numerous opportunities for people to put in their two cents’,” Arthur Reber said. “This process has been very thorough and collaborative,” said taxpayers’ association president Mark Robbins. Chamber of commerce president Dee Gough said her association also supported the proposal, saying mandatory trash pickup was the obvious solution to the perennial problem of dumping garbage on the roadsides.

Jeff Hegedus with the Whatcom County Health Department said by establishing a mandatory minimum service level for all developed properties, as determined by which properties have a water connection, it would lead to vendor stability because more users would support the system. “The idea is to go from 300 to 2,300 users which will provide economies of scale, allow higher service levels and put downward pressure on pricing,” he said.

Council voted 5-to-2 to adopt  the change with Barbara Brenner and Tyler Byrd opposed. It will go into effect in January 2019. Property owners will see an additional $204 fee for garbage on their 2019 tax bill, equivalent to $17 a month for two 32-gallon cans and recycling pickup. Additional service can be ordered directly from the company.

The code amendment approved by council includes a change from the original draft that will provide flexibility to seasonal users, which Hegedus said had received strong community support. The fee will, in effect, act as a non-refundable credit, allowing users to set out 26 cans for collection at any time during the year. Summer residents who don’t come down to the Point until May, for example, won’t be paying for  garbage picked up when they aren’t using the service in the first four months of the year. Come May, if they put out two cans a week for 13 weeks, that pickup service will be covered by the fee on their property tax statement (which is paid in April and October).

  1. According to the minutes available at http://documents.whatcomcounty.us/weblink8/0/doc/4290780/Page1.aspx?searchid=fea7ffea-281c-4716-9ba9-b7c40466cd34
    The number of pickups will be 26 per year with flexibility as to when they occur. Byrd proposed to change it to 12 per year and Sidhu opposed that change.

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  2. Well well as the Great Garbage Ripoff seems to be getting closer and closer to reality I suppose now we must deal with the betrayal by our local reprasentitives as well as county goverme.It is very apparent that most property owners on the Point are not well served by this short sighted asinine garbage regime.One of the questions I have is does the County,Community or Candu believe that there will be a tenfold increase in the amount of garbage produced in Point Roberts that will correspond to the increase in the amount that will be charged to already beleaguered property tax payers.Well I can tell you this taxpayer will be weighing every pound of garbage that I produce in 2019 and at the end of that year I will find out exactly how much per pound I have payed for disposal will it be 25 cents per lb 40 cents 50 cents is the sky the limit who knows?Another thing to ponder is if The Great Garbage Ripoff somehow does not magically solve all of our refuse woes what then?Are we locked in to this regime if so for how long will it be forever or just long enough to line some bodies pocket.In my humble opinion this is a very poor and certainly not an very green answer to our community needs.

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  3. It looks like the service provider will collect a service fee from 2300 customers with very little collection costs (no invoicing, cashing checks, chasing down bad checks, processing credit cards, etc.) and provide a service to approximately 400 customers. A “service level” of 2 cans per month for 2300 properties does not mean that those cans will be filled with trash and/or set out for collection. There is no way of knowing in advance exactly how many customers will use the service, so the only number the utilities commission can use to set the fee schedule is the number of residences that are taxed. As the garbage cruises down the road, a loud “ka-ching” sound will chime every few seconds at [Cando HQ?] as they “earn” about $8.50 as they pass each house. The rhythm will pause from time to time as the crew occasionally finds a can of trash to collect.
    That’s a very lucrative business! Is there any practical way for an alternative company come in and offer a lower tariff? Or is this deal already sealed through some special arrangement or impracticality that makes Cando the only eligible bidder?
    I pointed this out in a detailed email to the council ahead of their vote, but it seems that most of our council is not actually interested in helping Point Roberts manage its waste.

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  4. This decision will lead to increased rodents and trash at the Point. Because we will be forced to pay for pick up, receptacles, instead of being emptied by residents as needed, will be left on the roadside for pick up, possibly for days, inviting stray dogs, cats and wild animals such as raccoons and coyotes to scavenge the containers, strewing garbage everywhere, thus attracting more rodents such as rats. This is a poorly thought out decision that needs revisiting.

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  5. Arthur and Jay ran this dump with two people. Arther I had heard had a college degree in waste management. It was clean, organized and safe to drive your car thru. Remember? The current dump owner ran off this team in a mafia style disruption-google it and you will see the arguments raised but the current owner to take it away from the previous owner – for the same reasons they ran him off. Get rid of these current dump people and bring in educated people who run waste / dumps in communities for a living. Not these people who have zero experience at managing a community’s waste.

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  6. Congratulations to Point Roberts Taxpayers Assoc., Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce and Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee, you worked very hard to get this Horrible Deal for Property Owners. Point Roberts has just lost some of it’s Uniqueness by having this “Fee” added to our Property Taxes. You should ALL be Ashamed of Yourselves. This Tax, and yes it is a TAX, will do nothing to stop Illegal Dumping or Littering. The most consistent Littering happens every other Monday when the Recycling Truck rolls around this Beautiful little community redistributing plastic, paper, glass and cardboard wherever a gust of wind blows it out of the truck or a pothole bounces it out.
    Mr. Hegedus, Whatcom County Health Dept., wouldn’t listen to people who wanted less than two garbage cans a month and used Bellingham and Vancouver B.C. as comparisons in levels of service. If we received the same levels of service and diversity of items that you can put out at the curb then we could be compared to those Cities. We will not be getting the same services offered here and Point Roberts should have been compared to Lopez Island, Not Cities. Lopez Is. has a great Recycling Program and helps all it’s residents to work at Reducing Garbage and increasing Recycling. This Ordinance Change does NOT promote Recycling and Reducing Refuse. My family of four produces one can of garbage a month. We will be charged for two beginning 2019. Most people do not know that you can put up to 60 pounds of garbage in your can without being charged extra. You have to make sure that the lid still fits on your can but it is doable. Cando has to document over weight cans and if you see an extra charge on your bill for an overweight can then you need to call Marilyn at the Transfer Station and request proof. The burden is on them to prove your can was over weight or over full.
    The Petition that was signed by 200 year round Residents and/or Registered Voters and 164 Seasonal Property Owners showed that the support for this Ordinance Change was not Overwhelmingly for it. As some of you may have noticed, the big push to get this done was made in the off season so the would be less opposition. More people signed the Petition than showed up to the meetings. Unfortunately the Taxpayers Assoc. is NOT Representing the Property Owners who are Canadian like it once did. The Letter of Support from PRTA is the only piece of information that Whatcom County Council Member Satpal Sidhu based his decision on. He admitted that he knew nothing about the Financials of Cando and he thought that someone surely would have looked into them. He was informed many times that Cando’s books had NEVER been Audited and that they have a Monopoly in Pt. Roberts. Sidhu didn’t care. He had the letter of support from PRTA so most of the Blame lies with them. The next meeting of the PRTA is Wed. June 13, 7pm at the Community Center. Go to the meeting, there is always an Open Session where anyone can have their 3 minutes to bring up ideas or express concerns or as happened in the Open Session at the County Council Meeting, One Gentleman read a passage from the Bible.
    PRCAC has a meeting on June 12, 6pm at the Community Center. Not enough people go to these meetings and that is how we get another Tax added. It is unfathomable that the 5 Council Members Approved this Fee onto the Property Tax bill and the Tax dollars will be going to a Private Company with very little oversight as to how the money is spent. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission does set the Rate for Curbside Collection and will be doing a Rate Review once Cando asks for it to be done. With Tax dollars going to Cando next year we all need to keep pressure on the WUTC and Whatcom County to ensure that Cando’s books are Audited every year or more frequently.
    During the Public Hearing about the Ordinance change Council Member Byrd asked the Operator of Cando, Gellatly, what the Tariff Rate for one can per month was. Gellatly didn’t know. Hegedus was asked and he didn’t know. Kimberly Butts had a copy of the Tariff and presented it to Council. It is extremely sad that the Operator is so out of touch with his business that he didn’t know his own rates.
    Council Members Brenner and Byrd fought for the Property Owners in Point Roberts while the other five, Buchanan, Ballew, Donovan, Brown and Sidhu just want to clear their desks. Those five Council Members have done Point Roberts a great injustice and Discriminated against Property Owners in Point Roberts. We will be held to a Higher Standard than the rest of Whatcom County and will be Unfairly Taxed next year if we sit back and do nothing. Get involved. Be the one that helps make a difference or do nothing and get taxed more.

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  7. Terry Biddlecombe June 8, 2018, 5:12 am

    Quote: Chamber of commerce president Dee Gough said her association also supported the proposal, saying mandatory trash pickup was the obvious solution to the perennial problem of dumping garbage on the roadsides. End Quote.

    So people actually believe this will make a noticeable difference? I guess we will all pay $204 per year to find out.

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  8. Terry Biddlecombe June 8, 2018, 3:25 am

    Reading the second paragraph I thought there had at least been a reduction to only one 32 gallon can per month instead of two which is approaching reasonable for anyone who actively works at reducing their waste. But then reading the second to last paragraph the two cans per month is back so I’m assuming the second paragraph is an error. My garbage costs just went up by 20 times and property tax went up by a full 10%. Very disappointing for someone who produces extremely little garbage and regularly picks up garbage on the roadside and on the beach.

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  9. your facts are a bit off….BUT Nothing is written in stone yet. Your last paragraph is total Bull stuff. Someone has misled poor Meg. There are untruth’s there. This is totally incorrect as to what happened at the June 2nd meeting in Point Roberts. No, wrong, Sorry Jeff H. was not there at the Pt Roberts meeting June 2! The property owners/property tax payers who heard of the meeting, which was on announced on-line PAWS just the day before the Saturday meeting, and were able to come to the June 2 morning meeting and a STRAW POLL WAS FORCED BY PUBLIC DEMAND, and the results were a 95% AGAINST the proposed garbage plan ass presented. So sad that 75 % of home properties are owned by people who were not contacted or surveyed or told in advance or the impending TAX BILLING. Surprise to them…. “Sorry my fellow PROPERTY TAX PAYERS, you got TRASHED”, by lies. Shame on Jeff and Jeff, so many untruths. It is not over YET, you can still make a difference in your own future. WATCH FOR FUTURE PLANS AT – PAWS

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  10. The community overwhelmingly voted against this Ordinance June 2.
    Many of our special committee members recommend minimum one can instead of two to encourage recycling and reflect those that have less waste.
    I hope we can change this Ordinance with an amendment that would reflect the one can instead of two and tags for self haulers that can’t meet a garbage truck.
    I still prefer the positive Lopez island system that would give us three well paid county staff jobs, including a supportive recycling educator to increase high value recycling with positive support systems and free recorded beach bag pick ups. They even have a 3D printer.
    I believe the New Point Roberts Odinance is a negative system that does not reflect our values or increased recycling. Forced curbside will not improve illegal dumping as shown in other jurisdictions, but is may exasperate it.
    I hope community continue to write to council so we can make amendements to this ordinance as what has been suggested.

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  11. The actual fee to be added to our 2019 tax bills will be set by the UTC, based on their audit of CANDO and review of estimated costs and revenues under the new program. You could be close in your prediction of a $204 annual fee ($17 per month), but I don’t think you can actually know that at this moment in time. It could be a bit more or a bit less. The idea of mandating this increased economy of scale is to apply downward pressure on per household price.

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    • The idea of mandating this increased economy of scale was so the Tariff holder could make more money at our expense instead of the county’s expense.

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