Letters to the Editor

Square-footage based solid waste parcel fee will hurt businesses the most | Guest column

Contributed to Don Pencil of Orcas Island.

The county of San Juan has proven it cannot manage solid waste or the waste of our money.

This week's Sounder's Editorial called for a NO vote Nov. 8 on the parcel fee. Correct. The Sounder’s reasoning is correct.

Not only will a YES vote cost all residential users more per year, but it will hit businesses much harder. Those costs will be passed on to consumers in higher prices for goods and services. All homes are charged the same fee, regardless of property usage.

A single person on a small property is charged the same as a large family on a large property operating a construction or small manufacturing company out of the home. Small businesses that generate a small waste basket of trash per week are charged the same fee as businesses generating a large dumpster of trash per week.

The plan does not equate how much trash you create with how much you pay. Personally, I would be better off if the tipping fees were tripled and I only had to pay for what I take to the dump than with this plan.

I went to many of the businesses in the Main and N. Beach Road area on Saturday, Nov. 22, and asked the owner or employee if they were aware of Proposition 2. Most were not, and the few who were aware of it did not understand how it would work concerning the cost to them. None of them knew that they would be paying the cost of the “User Charge” either directly or indirectly.

Also, none of the business owners knew that they would be paying both at home and at their business. Because this “tax” has been labeled a “User Charge,” they all thought that in some way it only applied to trash hauling or tipping fees. The fee is charged to the building and not the businesses or residents. Even an empty building or rental will have to pay the “User Charge.”

None were aware that even an empty building pays the fee. At the Oct. 20 town hall meeting on Orcas, council persons could not coherently defend most of the details in this plan. Many of the questions or objections posed by Orcas citizens to this plan brought responses by Patty Miller and Richard Fralick of "We feel,"  "We do not know," "It was assumed," "We think," "We are not sure."

Chances are, this plan will never see the light of day. Should it pass for some reason, it will be immediately challenged in court.

The county can call it what they like, but it is still an unfair tax. The county has made a mess of waste management. This poorly written plan by the council makes it obvious they cannot manage this system, and it needs to be moved to the private sector.

No matter what we do, the cost will go up considerably for waste management. That’s just a fact. A private company will have to manage the system in an efficient, cost effective way. If it does not, it can lose the contract to another company.

There will be other issues we must address in our waste management future, and address them we will. Now we must take the first step and get the county out of solid and financial waste. Vote NO on the Solid Waste of our money by the county. Vote NO on Proposition No. 2.

Don Pencil

Eastsound, Wash.

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