Monday, March 8, 2010


Welcome to the "Take Back The Dump" blog! This will serve as a site for meeting notices, articles & documents, and various ways for all of us to get involved.

We are here to be a positive and productive means of gaining better control over what is happening to the Lopez Island Transfer Station. We welcome comments and questions that help further that purpose. Let's educate ourselves and seek ways to make a positive difference.
Thank you!


Chicaoji said...

Good work Sarah! I think this forum will help this community deal more responsibly with its refuse.
I have a question with a brief preamble:
The taxpayers own all the county equipment and infrastructure. All the county employees work for the taxpayers.
Example: I read that the road dept rents the backhoe to the solid waste dept 2 hours (+/-) per week for tamping the garbage into the big bins for $4000 a month.
Why does one department even rent equipment to another department when the taxpayers own it all?

Roseamber said...

Good question, Chicaojiwah, but it's like war, a deep and complicated evil...various government agencies have been charging each other for stuff for a very long time.

As I was leaving the dump last Sunday, I saw Renee dumping the "recycle" into one of the big garbage bins...probably designated for it, but it made me wonder, are we really recycling now???

Bob Myhr said...


Closing the Lopez Island transfer station is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE! The County Council is NOT considering closing the dump now. However, we have to cut costs and raise fees to pay for the transfer stations on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan.

You can make your voice heard. Send your comments to: the entire County Council at and to the County Administrator Pete Rose at .


The current financial crisis with the transfer stations is the result of:
. Sharp losses in revenue brought on by the recession and less garbage
. A significant loss of construction debris
. No source of funding for capital improvements

The Solid Waste division, which is part of Public Works, has to:
. Further minimize costs
. Find additional revenues to support the facilities
. Complete a long-range, sustainable funding plan to pay for the transfer stations

Our transfer station costs are higher than in other counties because:
. Each large island needs its own transfer station
. Have staff on each island
. County has a much smaller population – no economies of scale
. Curbside pickup will not work for many homes and their residents
. Our Lopez transfer station is extremely efficient (thanks to Neil!), but has had less revenues than expenses. It is smaller and has been partially subsidized by Orcas and San Juan.

Some cost-savings that have already been taken:
. Switch to co-mingling of recyclables to reduce handling costs on Lopez
. Reduced or cut some jobs
. Negotiated voluntary furlough options with union and management

Current Council ideas of how to pay:
. To cover operations:
. Raise minimum dump fee to $15 per first can of garbage; $2 for second can
. Increase commercial garbage truck tipping fees, including raising their minimum fee
. To cover capital improvements:
. Issue county government bonds
. Allocate a portion of dump fees (self-haul and commercial) to help pay for bonds
. Ask the voters for a property tax (at least half of which is paid by non-residents who benefit from the system when they are here) to pay for bonds
. Integrate a sustainable funding mechanism within a long-term economic plan

Bob Myhr said...

Here is my update since March 15, 2010, comments -- Bob Myhr
1) On March 16, 2010, the County Council stated its opposition to closing any of the three transfer stations, including Lopez. Closing them just will not work for our islands.
2) At that same meeting, the Council approved raising transfer station fees by 14% for both self-haul and franchise haulers to help pay for the rising losses in the solid waste system. And, as part of the 14%, the Council approved the following fees for self-haul: 1st can of garbage $12, second can (on same trip) $6. If you bring 2 cans of garbage in one trip, you save $6. No fee for recyclables. The purpose of the two fee structure is to reduce self-haul trips to the stations---not a real problem on Lopez, but evidentally one on Orcas and San Juan. [This new fee schedule is different from the $15 + $3, which I strongly opposed, but was originally proposed by county staff.] In addition to cost reductions, the Council is also considering asking the voters for a tax to be allocated for support of solid waste system and to help pay for bonds.

Stay tuned. Bob

Dan Post said...

The County Council is going to sell bonds to pay for Solid Waste? Bonds are just one way of borrowing money and the bottom line with bonds is that the taxpayers are on the hook. Does anyone think that borrowing your way out of debt is a good idea or even works? In my opinion, before you raise fees, borrow money, trade away your property, or reduce hours of your best employees, you have “Cost Containment” and “Transparency”.

Dan Post