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Lower waste fee hike urged

Panel says cost savings should be part of proposal

The Spokane County Solid Waste Advisory Committee wants the regional garbage system to substitute efficiencies for most of a proposed 10.2 percent increase in disposal fees.

The committee voted unanimously to ask the regional solid waste staff to recommend cuts in its operating costs, possibly including a reduction in weekend hours at transfer stations.

Spokane City Council members Richard Rush and Bob Apple and County Commissioner Todd Mielke supported Commissioner Mark Richard’s proposal to offer only $4 of a proposed $10-per-ton increase in the charge for processing garbage.

The committee’s fifth member, Cheney City Councilman Doug Nixon, was absent.

Russ Menke, director of the Spokane-operated regional solid waste system, had called for a boost from $98 a ton to $108.

A proposed three-year extension of Wheelabrator Spokane’s contract to operate the city’s Waste-to-Energy Plant accounts for about $800,000 a year of cost increases estimated at $3.5 million.

The contract extension is to be a bridge to a new regional system in 2014. The new system, controlled by member governments, may discontinue use of the Spokane garbage incinerator.

County commissioners have the last word on the rate increase, but the city-county agreement that established the current system says commissioners can’t “unreasonably” withhold increases needed to keep the operation solvent.


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