After about a year of trying to figure out if there’s a better way for Haines to deal with garbage, the Solid Waste Working Group has a recommendation. The group wants the borough to manage a waste disposal system funded mostly by sales taxes.
Right now one private company has a monopoly on trash disposal in Haines. The working group’s recommendation is to implement a publicly managed and funded waste system.
Currently, borough residents can self-haul trash to the Community Waste Solutions landfill. In the working group’s plan, trash disposal would be made more convenient with a centrally located transfer station.
At a recent meeting, waste group member Burl Sheldon said he thinks the recommendation should include more details about how the transfer stations would be set up.
“I really focused my interest in getting a downtown transfer station and a transfer station at Mosquito Lake,” said Sheldon. “And it’s very important that it be highly accessible, and we don’t have to go to the end of FAA Road, or a visitor in his RV doesn’t have to go to FAA Road landfill to get that done. This proposal does not solve that problem.”
The idea is for trash to be shipped out from the transfer station.
The group is also recommending a new way to pay for getting rid of garbage: a 1 percent sales tax increase.
The tax hike is estimated to raise $500,000 a year and cover most of the costs of solid waste management. Any leftover costs would be covered by a small tipping fee, estimated at between $0.02 and $0.08 per pound.
Right now it costs $0.25 per pound to toss trash at CWS.
But the group wasn’t unanimous on the tax hike. Norm Smith pushed back.
“I just don’t think the public or the assembly, whoever the new assembly members are going to be are going to swallow a 1 percent sales tax increase for municipal solid waste disposal,” said Smith. “I just don’t think it’s going to be acceptable.”
The assembly could decide on a different amount. Any move to raise sales taxes will go to voters to decide.
In the scenario the waste group is suggesting, the borough would issue RFPs for running the transfer station.
The long-term goal is for the borough to own the transfer station, but that’s unaffordable right now.
CWS holds the only certificate for collection in the borough. No matter what, it would still be able to offer collection services. The company declined to comment for this story.
The working group voted to pass the recommendation on to the assembly. The group is hoping to meet with the assembly to present its ideas.
The waste group hopes a plan like this with more convenient disposal and funding through taxes would cut back on illegal dumping and trash burning.