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Committee backs increased trash collection rates

With a 6-1 vote on June 12, the Washington County Solid Waste Advisory Committee decided to support a collection rate increase proposal for the 59,000 customers who live in unincorporated Washington County.

The proposal will increase residential rates by 2.3 percent, which translates to roughly 50 cents more per month. Commercial rates will rise by 8.3 percent, but the rate for dropbox collection will decrease by 8.43 percent.

The committee will ask the Washington County Board of Commissioners to approve the increase at the commission’s June 24 meeting. If accepted, the rate changes will go into effect July 1, 2014.

Public member Jimmy Jones voted against the measure. Jones questioned the lack of transparency in the costs, and said he wanted more details before he could support raising the rates.

“It’s 50 cents,” he said during the meeting, referring to residential rate increases. “But should it be cheaper? Should it be more? I have no idea; I really don’t.”

Solid Waste Manager Theresa Koppang said cost details are available upon request for committee members. Citizens also can request public records, although confidential information such as names may be redacted.

Jones said he was informed he could look at the full cost report on Tuesday, but didn’t have enough time before the Thursday meeting. Jones resigned during the meeting because he is moving out of Washington County, but said if he were staying on the board he would have made a motion to make the reports more readily available to the public.

Since 2011, the county has adopted a new method for looking at solid waste costs. They have in-depth reviews once every three years rather than annually to spend less time and money on consulting contracts. With this system, they anticipate that cost increases — although more frequent — will be smaller.

— Kate Stringer

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