ordinance addresses solid waste
Idaho County has a great deal to be thankful—our way of life, low crime rate, scenic beauty, healthy environment, strong communities, good schools and good health care facilities. We also have challenges with the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools legislation that supports roads and schools. Additionally, we are having issues with growth, transportation infrastructure, financing criminal trials, and solid waste.
As many of you know, solid waste collection and disposal costs continue to soar. We are addressing the complex issue of solid waste management for Idaho County through planning sessions with our solid waste contractors, community groups who are working toward recycling programs like Riggins, and evaluating the current dumpster system that is widely abused. Additionally, Commissioners from our five county region are working to locate a regional landfill site with county resident input.
Idaho County is in the 5th year of a 10 year franchise contract with our contractors. The soaring fuel prices of 2005 triggered significant solid waste contract increases in 2006-07. The increased solid waste costs depleted the solid waste fund at the end of 2007 and rates were raised to cover the costs. Ordinance 55 was passed on September 12, 2007 (see ordinance on www.idahocounty.org) to address the changes necessary to fund the county solid waste system since the county is ultimately responsible for all solid waste in the county.
The county’s anticipated costs reflected in the 2007-08 county budget is $1,255,000. After extensive research and serious deliberations in public meetings, the ordinance addressed three key elements to the county fee structure:
1. A 15% rate increase across the board to all receiving a county solid waste fee.
2. Property owners will pay full residential rate for their first residence (full or part-time occupancy) in the county and will receive an exemption on the second residence if it qualifies for a part-time occupancy.
3. Farm and ranch businesses are charged a half commercial rate (full residential rate) unless qualified for exemption.
Solid waste management is a complex issue for counties. Idaho County has extraordinary circumstances with 65 dumpster sites where most have multiple dumpsters that cover our vast region. The current unsupervised dumpster system is fraught with abuse and unfairness. Residents who contribute very little to the waste stream pay the same rate as persons who contribute a substantial amount to the waste stream. The county must provide a solid waste system that is available to all property owners whether or not they use it.
We invite the public to help find solutions to the solid waste system, in fact, the Idaho County Comissioners are looking for individuals to serve on an Idaho County Solid Waste Advisory Committee. A seven member group representing the areas of Cottonwood, Elk City, Grangeville, Kamiah, Kooskia, Riggins and an at-large position will meet regularly to identify better ways to manage solid waste which includes recycling. To apply for the ICSWAC, submit a letter or email with a brief biography and the reason for serving to Idaho County Commissioners, 320 W. Main, Grangeville, Id. 83530 by Dec. 7 2007. We hope to have the first meeting by January 2008.
We understand the frustration and strong emotions surrounding the solid waste issue. Our goal is to be fair, open, and legal in the way we manage the solid waste system. Our vision is to have a more efficient and cost effective system that includes recycling. Thank you for your patience.