Should the Haines Borough ship out its waste, instead of sending it to the local landfill? That’s one question the solid waste working group says they won’t take a stance on.
Interim manager Brad Ryan proposed the idea. He’s suggesting the municipality could save money by sending trash generated at borough facilities to Washington state. Right now, like private citizens, the borough sends its garbage to the privately-owned Community Waste Solutions.
Earlier this month Ryan told the assembly he thinks the cost of disposal could be cut in half by switching methods. The savings mostly come from much lower rates at the Washington facility.
The assembly referred the idea to the solid waste working group.
But, at their most recent meeting, that group declined to make a recommendation. As was the case with the assembly, the idea generated a lot of questions for group members and some residents in the room.
For instance, what might happen to disposal rates for private citizens if a major CWS customer like the borough were to pull its business?
Jeremy Stephens said that’s something the group should address.
“Asking the borough to understand the implications to the rest of the public that doesn’t get to use this regional – what’s going to happen to us, our rates, whatever. I think that would be a nice request to the borough before they make a decision, to fully understand that,” said Stephens.
A few hands went up from the public, too.
Debra Schnabel raised one concern. She said in the summer, the borough’s trash ends up including waste generated by tourists and garbage from the harbor.
Burl Sheldon said he doesn’t want to see the borough move in this direction.
“I’m personally against the idea of fracturing it and competing in effect, even though it’s the borough just doing its own thing. Which I find really weird. I find that really weird, it’s like the borough is supposed to be doing something for us, that’s why this committee was formed,” said Sheldon. “To do something for the whole community, and I hope that we can stay focused on that.”
Assembly member Margaret Friedenauer said there would be savings for taxpayers if the borough was spending less for trash disposal.
Stephens said making a decision is difficult for this particular group. They are currently working toward creating a solid waste management plan for the community.
“Because of course we want the borough to continue to find ways to save money, which they’ve done,” said Stephens. “But if they go through with this, this has the potential to undermine any community-wide solution that we may or may not come up with at this table.”
Diana Lapham circled back to an issue the group has dealt with in past meetings, their mission.
“I see a lot of grey area out there and now we’re being asked to make a recommendation that I feel we have no business making,” said Lapham. “Because we haven’t really decided what we’re doing.”
Stephens suggested looking into whether the borough could get the same kind of savings through CWS. If they did go through with Ryan’s suggestion, the borough would end up paying some up-front costs to get set up. Stephens wondered, if the borough instead paid that amount of money to the local company, could they see rates decreased to a comparable number?
Melissa Aronson from Haines Friends of Recycling said making a recommendation would be premature and made a motion to not make a recommendation at this time. Her motion passed, with Stephens in opposition. That sends the plan back to the assembly.