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Staff Reporter 

Spokane County presents solid waste options to Airway Heights


Kevin Cooke, Spokane County utility director, along with Spokane County Commissioners Al French and Shelly O’Quinn, gave a presentation on the county’s regional solid waste disposal system to the Airway Heights City Council at the July 14 study session.

Cooke explained that nine municipalities are currently participating in the regional system. He said the county is in negotiations with vendors to operate the transfer stations in Spokane Valley and Colbert, Wash.

Cooke said the county is finishing its comprehensive solid waste management plan and looks to get it approved by the Department of Ecology.

Cooke said he wanted to clarify the projections of the gate fee to drop trash off at the Waste to Energy Facility is $99.50 per ton, and will go up to $102.39 at the beginning of next year. The gate fees at the Waste to Energy Plant will increase each year by the 25-year average increase in the Consumer Price Index, which currently equates to 2.9 percent.

The gate fees for the Colbert and Spokane Valley transfer stations are set at $101 per ton.

Commissioner French explained the rates are cheaper than they were projected three years ago. He added that the interlocal agreements the county has presented the city is “not cast in stone.”

“This is not a take it or leave kind of proposition,” French said. “We’re trying to find a way to make the system work for all residents.”

Councilwoman Tanya Dashiell asked if the county took suggestions from other cities. Cooke said the county made some changes to the interlocal agreement. One change allows participating jurisdictions to terminate the agreement after three years.

Mayor Patrick Rushing asked about the cost of withdrawing from the county system. French said the county would absorb the costs. He added that he knew about the “anxieties of paying for the transfer station twice.”

Rushing said the city of Spokane owns the Waste to Energy plant and they passed the liability and responsibility on to the county and its residents.

“All of us are paying for those transfer stations the second time,” Rushing said. “That’s my irritable feeling toward this.”

Commissioner O’Quinn said that during the negotiations with the city, the county asked to have an opt out of the system after three years, which allows them to look at options.

“If they’re (the city) not competitive with us and we do a request for proposal and find out that it’s cheaper to do long haul, we have the option to do that,” O’Quinn said.

Cooke said cities that join the regional system would have representation on the county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) while the county is managing the system.

“The cities will help make the decisions,” Cooke said. “We (the county) are not in it for profit, we’re here to cover costs.”

Cooke handed out a one-page overview of the county’s system and services that include all the requirements from the state. Rushing said the umbrella RFP the city sent out for solid waste disposal services earlier this year already covered the requirements from the state.

“If you would have seen the RFP you would have known that we already covered that,” Rushing said.

O’Quinn said it is the city’s own decision of whether or not they want to go with the county system.

“We would like you to join the county system, but ultimately you have to look at what’s best for you,” O’ Quinn said.

Al Stover can be reached at


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