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Millwood considers Waste Management after Valley opts out

Spokane Valley’s decision to contract with Sunshine Disposal & Recycling instead of the county is having a domino effect on waste management throughout the county. “Tonight was intended to be an action night,” Millwood City Attorney Brian Werst said at a special council meeting Tuesday. “There are still two options on the table and we don’t have specifics on either one.”

So far the county has been unable to give costs and other specifics as part of the agreement it wants cities and towns to sign on to.

“We don’t have an interlocal agreement to even review or consider at this point,” Werst said. “The actions by Spokane Valley really changed the dynamic of solid waste in this community.”

After learning of the Valley’s intent, county commissioners held an emergency meeting with both Liberty Lake and Millwood last week.

“At that meeting, the county was significantly more receptive to potential changes in their interlocal agreement,” Mayor Kevin Freeman said. “But the county is still unable to commit to a rate.”

It’s that lack of rate information that concerns the city.

Also at issue as the city decides what to do with solid waste is the fact that it is under a G-certificate issued by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, Werst said. The certificate grants Waste Management the exclusive right to collect solid waste at the curb.

Under statute, the city is required to give Waste Management seven year’s notice to phase out the company’s operational exclusivity.

But, last week Waste Management met with Millwood and Liberty Lake to explore the possibility of a long-term franchise agreement. This agreement could remove the seven-year waiting period and any obligation the city would have to compensate Waste Management for damages.

“This is an unheard of arrangement in Washington,” Werst said. “It makes the Sunshine proposal … a viable option for the city. Without some sort of agreement with Millwood, (Waste Management) and Sunshine, we couldn’t make that arrangement work under the law.”

The council is set to decide whether to hire a consultant to review the waste management options at its Tuesday meeting.