Letters to the Editor

Vote 'no' on solid waste parcel fee | Letter

The ballot measure asks us to vote:

“Yes”: to approve a parcel based user charge and maintain the county’s  involvement in the exiting  system.  The fee is relatively modest.   Overall there is an increase in cost for everyone, OR

“No”: to reject the parcel based fee and move toward a new system that may eliminate a lot of the overhead and capital cost structures.  The new system would involve the contracting of services to private enterprises (e.g. San Juan Sanitation).

It is so easy to “stay with what is” (existing system) and in this case vote yes and pay a $100 to $150 parcel fee.  But the seductive nature of the small “fee” masks something much larger and long-term that is most troubling.

From the San Juan County Resolution 43-2011:

A “yes” vote (Plan A) includes funds to maintain all three existing facilities.

A “yes” vote provides new infrastructure funds of $ 1 - $3 million for SJI.

A “yes” vote may maintain the full staffing of about 12 full time employees at a cost approaching $900,000 annually (with  cost of living increases over time and health benefit increases averaging 8 percent per year) – while a rejection of the measure provides funding for one part-time staff.

A “no” vote (Plan B) implies a primarily route collection system for garbage and recycling  – a new contracted and quasi privatized arrangement.

A “no” vote allows the contracted entity to continue use of the facility.

For clarity: these are two very different options. The real cost saving benefits derived from Plan B (a “no” vote) are precisely because that plan is no longer saddled with existing infrastructure and labor costs and instead a private contractor is using its existing infrastructure with the added incentive to find ways to improve service and reduce costs.  The new system asks us to actually pay what it costs – period.

Joe Cohen

Orcas Island

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