The Douglas County Board of Commissioners Wednesday unanimously rejected rate increases for depositing trash at the landfill and transfer sites. The increases were recommended by the county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
That doesn’t mean fee increases don’t lie ahead, but the commissioners said they didn’t favor the fee system SWAC had suggested.
SWAC members voted last month in favor of a fee schedule that would charge a minimum $12 fee for individuals disposing of trash at the landfill or transfer stations.
The current rate schedule is $3 per can. The $12 charge would have applied to people bringing between one and three cans. Each yard of trash, equivalent to about four cans, would have been $16 under the plan, up from $12 currently.
Commissioner Chris Boice, the liaison to the solid waste committee, said it’s more efficient for the system to encourage people to dispose of higher volumes of trash at a time, but he felt the SWAC proposal was too punitive.
“What I would rather see is a system that is more of an incentive in nature. In other words, we would rather incentivize folks to get where we want to go rather than punish them for not doing that,” he said.
He suggested that people bringing one can be charged $6. Two cans would be $5 each, or $10, and three cans $4 each, or $12.
He also said the SWAC’s upcoming community meetings next week would make it easier for the committee to come back with what he said would be a better proposal.
Commissioner Tim Freeman said for him the SWAC is one of the county’s most frustrating committees, and that the direction he’d like them to take never gets considered. Because of that, he said, he’s voted no on every franchise hauling agreement that’s come before the commissioners except for one that reduced the rates.
He said more times than not it’s cheaper for people to have the franchise hauling business covering their area pick up and dispose of their trash than it is for them to individually haul their garbage to a transfer station, and he said the fees should reflect the actual costs to the system.
“We blend those two things together as if they’re the same thing. That is a mistake,” he said.
He noted it had been part of the culture for decades for people to bring a single can to the landfill or transfer station and dispose of it for free. But that’s because the landfill was supported by federal timber revenue that’s no longer coming to the county. Now, he said, it’s supported by fees.
He suggested a simpler system than Boice proposed, with a $12 minimum but a 50% discount for a single can.
Commissioner Tom Kress said he thought it was very appropriate to wait for public input before approving new fees.
“Hopefully by listening to the public and maybe listening to these folks we can have that discussion and go forward with something that works for everybody,” Kress said.
The SWAC community meetings next week will also address the issue of whether some transfer stations should be closed. Boice said the idea is unpopular, but people need to either pay the actual cost to deposit trash at those stations or reduce the number.
SWAC will hold community meetings at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Oregon State University Extension Office Auditorium, 1134 SE Douglas Ave., Roseburg; at 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Yoncalla Community Center, 400 Main St.; at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Javelin Ormond Community Center, 62 NW Pine St., Canyonville; and at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Marina Activity Center, 263 Marina Way, Winchester Bay.