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

Publicly funded garbage program back on the table

The long debated tax-funded solid waste plan failed last year.


June 20, 2019

On Tuesday, the borough’s commerce committee revived a 2018 proposal for a publicly funded solid waste program paid for by up-to-a-1 percent sales tax increase. It will be considered at the assembly meeting next week, according to borough clerk Alekka Fullerton.

In August 2018, a 3-3 tie vote by the assembly stopped the proposed waste ordinance from reaching voters. At that time, assembly members Heather Lende, Stephanie Scott, and Maidy supported the ordinance with members Brenda Josephson, Tresham Gregg and Tom Morphet opposed.

With Prisciandaro on the assembly, there are now four assembly members who have expressed support of a publicly funded solid waste program. Lende and Josephson said their positions are the same on the old ordinance, and Scott could not be reached for comment. Maidy was in favor of the ordinance at the commerce committee, and Morphet was opposed. Prisciandaro’s ‘yes’ vote would break the tie in favor of a publicly funded program.

The commerce committee revived the old ordinance because Maidy, Prisciandaro, borough manager Debra Schnabel and public works director Brad Ryan said Tuesday that Community Waste Solutions (CWS) was failing to meet the needs of the Haines community.

“We don’t have a landfill full of trash, we have trash dumped all over the land,” said Maidy. He and others at the meeting said that CWS does not properly dispose of trash. The reason people didn’t like the 2018 plan, said Maidy, was because of the sales tax. “I heard a lot of people complaining about that,” he said.

“(The 2018 plan) was trying to do a lot of things at once,” said Morphet. “That was a big meal for the community to take a bite of at once.” Morphet was in favor of implementing an incremental approach.

“This should just be in the budget no matter what it costs to make that happen. It is an essential service. It’s essential to public health,” said Margaret Friedenauer, who worked on the solid waste working group that researched the problem in Haines for about 18 months. “This should just be a natural part of the budget…The information that I gave (in 2018) was about essential services a government provides, not a private entity.”

In 2018, Haines Friends of Recycling chair Melissa Aronson and Friedenauer worked together on the solid waste working group, but when the ordinance came to the assembly, Aronson was opposed to it.

She said she opposed it then because of changes that borough staff had made to the proposal. “Staff changes kind of combined everything, and it was going to put self-sorted recycling into a position of having to work closely with the garbage people and that was not really a very tenable situation,” said Aronson.

Aronson said she supported the original proposal that the working group had produced. She said was surprised that the committee on Tuesday did not vote to advance the original 2018 proposal to the assembly level.

For a sales tax levy to be introduced on the ballot to fund a community waste management program, an ordinance will need to pass at the assembly level by July 18.


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