Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Borough considers a new 1% sales tax instead of landfill fees

 

June 28, 2018



The Haines Borough is moving toward proposing an additional 1 percent sales tax to fund a new borough-directed solid waste disposal program — maybe contracting with Community Waste Solutions, the current landfill owner and operator.

The new tax would replace the fee system at the landfill.

Regardless which way the borough goes, CWS told the borough assembly June 26 it intends to stay in business.

Borough manager Debra Schnabel said the borough’s proposal came out of many years of trash problems. “Our issues are not so much with the processes that are ongoing at the current landfill. Our issues are about public health and safety.”

Schnabel at the June 26 assembly meeting presented a draft ordinance creating a borough plan for solid waste management, generating revenue through an areawide sales tax.

Other revenue sources such as federal and state grants, fees to promote re-use and recycling, and a motor vehicle registration tax, also may be considered.

Borough staff had previously presented options for public-private partnership along with the sales tax to the assembly at its committee of the whole meeting June 19. The presentation June 26 only considered tax funding.

The assembly would have to introduce a draft ordinance by July 24 in order to get a publicly funded program on the October municipal election ballot, Schnabel said. Assembly member Stephanie Scott’s motion for the borough manager create a draft ordinance for a tax-funded system passed 5-1, with assembly member Tresham Gregg opposed.

Schnabel’s recommendations also include new penalties and increased enforcement against people who dump their trash wherever they want.

The manager also presented the assembly with a draft request for proposals to create a solid waste transfer station that would provide a more convenient drop-off location than the landfill, as well as a recycling program and baling facility to tie up the garbage for shipment.

The borough and CWS agree that a transfer station should be closer to town than the landfill.

Due to legal issues, Schabel said, the borough might have to issue a competitive request for proposals instead of directly negotiating with CWS. “We’d have to take our chances.”

Schnabel said that the proposals were an attempt to blend recommendations from the borough-appointed solid waste working group with the resources of CWS and Haines Friends of Recycling.

CWS Manager Sally Garton presented on the company’s current efforts and its goals for the future. She spoke on behalf of owner Tom Hall, who was absent to care for his wife who is ill.

CWS has made multiple renovations in the past month, Garton said, including leasing new equipment, covering the landfill, making a new road, organizing storage, and adding a new loading dock. The company’s bailer is out for maintenance, and the mechanical screener-separator needs an upgrade that should come in this week, but otherwise all of their upgrades are in operation.

Garton said CWS has other investments over the past few years, including constructing a bear fence, and buying a bag breaker, cardboard shredder and a recycling screener.

Garton said CWS sent water samples to the Department of Environmental Conservation on June 18 after the borough raised concerns about lack of testing of standing water and runoff at the facility.

CWS plans to open its own waste transfer station and recycling center and develop a stronger relationship with the borough and Haines Friends of Recycling.

“We’re going to go ahead with our plans, no matter what happens,” Garton said.

“Our ideal scenario is to work with the borough and to work with Haines Friends of Recycling.”

Garton said that CWS supports the concept of a tax-supported solid waste program, but Hall has not decided on any of the specific suggestions.

Schnabel said the borough used to require mandatory pickup, but the community would not support it. Without mandatory pickup, Schnabel said, “we allow people to do what they will with their garbage. We are not as a community being responsible with our own environmental health and maybe even our community health.”

Assembly members briefly debated the merits of creating a new tax. Scott said she did not want to discourage CWS, and assembly member Heather Lende said she was concerned for Haines Friends of Recycling. Assembly members Brenda Josephson and Tom Morphet said whatever the borough does, it has to be common sense or it will be voted down.

 
 

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