March 20, 2014 | Vol. 117 -- No. 48

West Plains officials talk solid waste

A group of city officials from municipalities throughout Spokane County met in Medical Lake to discuss a collective request for proposal for solid waste management in their cities.

The city of Spokane has transferred their control of the regional solid waste system to the county, who has purchased the city’s transfer stations for $9.9 million and will take control of the system in November.

Several cities, including Cheney and Airway Heights, had discussed the possibility of exploring other options for solid waste management in their cities and not entering an agreement with Spokane County when the current agreement expires.

At the meeting, the city leaders agreed that the RFP would be an umbrella proposal and have chapters specific to each city. Liberty Lake City Administrator Katy Allen said the RFP would include a comprehensive solid waste management plan, approved by the Department of Ecology, and a fee structure. The proposal will not include curbside hauling.

Deer Park, Airway Heights, Liberty Lake and Millwood were the cities who expressed interest to participate in the RFP.

One reason city leaders want to move away from the county and explore other options is because they want to have control of their city’s’ solid waste system.

“If we’ve got a contract with someone to perform a service, then we’re under contract, then we’ve got an agreement between two bodies, we’ve got an agreement,” Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing said. “If you’re piggy backing off somebody else, you’re letting them — as they have done in the last 25 years — control everything.”

Another concern with city officials was that while Spokane County has provided estimates on tipping fees, which is the charge levied upon a given quantity of waste received at a processing facility, they would not have specific figures available until June. The city leaders agreed that they want to find the cheapest costs and best rates for their citizens.

Allen expressed concern that if the cities do not enter into an interlocal agreement with Spokane County, it may be difficult for them to negotiate an agreement with the city of Spokane to transfer garbage to Waste-to-Energy plant, which Spokane will still own after November.

Rushing said the businesses bidding on the RFP could negotiate with Spokane or other counties.

Sunshine Disposal and Recycling was brought up as one of the possible businesses that would bid on the RFP. They currently have a solid waste collection contract with Medical Lake, according to City Administrator Doug Ross.

Spokane Valley City Manager Mike Jackson said they will pursue their own solid waste plan and negotiate with the county while looking for private partnerships.

Allen said if the RFP goes out then the cities will at least know where they are, whether or not they get any responses from businesses.

“If the worst case happens, we can sit down with the county and negotiate the best deal we can,” Allen said. “We can test our options and take it back to our council.”

Allen said RFP will be reviewed by city attorneys and is scheduled to go out by the end of the week.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.

Reader Comments

(0)