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Spokane Valley considers trash options

Sat., July 6, 2013, midnight

Spokane Valley officials are looking at options for solid waste disposal before the city’s contract with Spokane expires in November 2014.

Among the options: hauling trash by truck or train, purchasing the Spokane Valley transfer station or building a new one, and continuing the contract with Spokane.

Spokane operates the Waste to Energy plant and transfer stations in Spokane Valley and Colbert.

The city and Spokane County are studying costs of the various options, said Public Works Director Eric Guth during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The Spokane Valley transfer station was recently assessed at $7.2 million. That’s not necessarily the cost the city would pay, said City Manager Mike Jackson. “They’re not hard numbers,” he said.

If the city bought the transfer station, it would still need to haul trash elsewhere. The city is evaluating the cost to haul trash to four regional landfills, Guth said.

“I think Kootenai County might be one to look at,” said Councilman Arne Woodard. “They built a 100-year disposal site.”

The results of the study are scheduled to be presented at a joint meeting with Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County on Aug. 28. It may be necessary to call a special meeting to discuss the study before the joint meeting, Jackson said. “This is moving at a very accelerated pace,” he said.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to award a stormwater improvement project on Bettman and Dickey roads to Cat’s Eye Excavating for $165,000, well under the estimated cost of $250,000. The project will add swales, drywells and underground piping to fix flooding issues in the area, Guth said.

The council also briefly discussed the implementation of Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana. It now appears that the Liquor Control Board intends to start accepting applications for licenses to grow and sell the product in September, said Deputy City Attorney Erik Lamb. “This bumps up our timeline up by about two and a half months,” he said.

The city has already received several calls from people interested in getting licenses, Lamb said. Staff is beginning to create a map detailing where such businesses would be allowed. The state law requires they be more than 1,000 feet away from parks, schools, day cares and similar facilities. The city’s zoning code would prohibit them in residential areas, Lamb said.

Several council members said they wanted to see that map before making any decisions on how to move forward with any additional restrictions. “I personally would like to move very cautiously and systematically,” Woodard said.

Councilman Rod Higgins asked if the federal government, which still considers marijuana illegal, has given any indication on how they will treat Washington’s law. Lamb said there has been no direction given to the state. “Washington will be the test case,” he said.

The state Legislature recently approved a new budget, and it includes new cuts to the liquor taxes that have been distributed to cities in the past. As recently as 2011 the city received about $460,000 a year from the tax, said Finance Director Mark Calhoun, and it was cut by $164,000 in 2012. Now it appears that the city could receive as little as $147,000 a year, Calhoun said. “We’re just not sure,” he said.

The city has a budget that spends nearly everything it takes in and may have to trim some programs to accommodate the cut, Jackson said. “Those are very real dollars to us,” he said.

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