Tuesday afternoon was all about trash as Spokane Valley City Council members spent more than two hours of their annual daylong winter retreat talking about the future of solid waste disposal.
Trash pickup service is provided by Waste Management and Sunshine Disposal under franchise agreements that expire in 2015. There is a transfer station near the Spokane Valley Industrial Park where residents can drop off trash, yard waste and hazardous materials.
The city and Spokane County are studying whether the two jurisdictions should continue sending trash to Spokane’s Waste to Energy plant. The study will look at the potential costs of shipping trash to landfills via truck or railroad.
“We have a whole universe of options available,” said City Manager Mike Jackson.
Spokane Valley residents are not required to have curbside pickup of their trash. About 65 percent of residents, however, do.
Council members also discussed Waste Management’s request to raise recycling rates 73 percent. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission must approve any rate increase.
“If you have garbage service, you’re required to have recycling service,” said senior administrative analyst Morgan Koudelka.
Councilman Arne Woodard said he was upset about the recycling costs. It was supposed to be free, but charges have crept up, he said. “I don’t like being manipulated as a user that way,” he said. It’s particularly difficult because residents with trash pickup can’t just decide to drop recycling to save money, he said. “Now we can’t discontinue any portion of it.”
No matter what route the city decides to go, both the level of service and cost have to be considered, said Councilman Chuck Hafner. There are no problems with the current service, he said. “We get picked up regularly,” he said.
In other business, the council also discussed possible changes to zoning for manufactured home parks.
A group of residents has appeared at several council meetings asking that the city adopt an ordinance that would help protect them if the landowner decided to sell the property underneath their homes. They also wanted a two-year notice if a mobile home park is being closed, said City Attorney Cary Driskell. State law mandates a one-year notice. “That presents some additional problems. I think we still need to be cautious,” Driskell said.
Mayor Tom Towey said the council has heard only from mobile home residents, not property owners. “We have not heard the other side,” he said.
Councilman Dean Grafos said perhaps the city could consider some kind of mobile home park zoning for newly established parks. The city shouldn’t dictate what a property owner can do with his land, he said. “That’s as far as I would want to go with it,” he said.
Woodard suggested creating an easier way for mobile home parks to be divided up so each homeowner can buy the land under their mobile home.
Currently park residents can create an LLC that would own the property jointly, said Community Development Director John Hohman. Otherwise the land would have to go through a subdivision process.