Speak up now to stop extreme fee increase | Letter to the editor

Posted 5/17/23

Jefferson County Solid Waste wants to double fees for those who “self-haul” (take their trash to the transfer station).

At the Board of County Commissioners’ meeting on April …

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Speak up now to stop extreme fee increase | Letter to the editor


Jefferson County Solid Waste wants to double fees for those who “self-haul” (take their trash to the transfer station).

At the Board of County Commissioners’ meeting on April 17, Solid Waste recommended doubling the minimum fee from $10 to $20. The flat-rate weight allowed for the minimum fee would also double from 120 pounds to 240 pounds but who has room in their car for anything close to that much? Not me, and not anyone else who doesn’t have a trailer or a pickup truck.

The proposed fee increase is highly regressive, hitting hardest those who can least afford it.

To “prove” that their recommendation to increase fees is justifiable, Solid Waste staff cherry-picked some numbers that included King County, Snohomish County, and Kitsap County in their chart of average “regional” rates. A more honest comparison, using just the four Olympic Peninsula counties, shows that Jefferson County’s current $10 fee is only $2.50 less than the average of its peers.

Solid Waste’s scheme also proposes to increase the per-ton rate for larger loads by 2.5 percent per year, every year. At $162.93, Jefferson County already charges the sixth-highest rate of all counties in our state, and far more than comparable rural counties. Statewide, only San Juan, Clallam, Skamania, Ferry, and Pierce charge more per ton. Jefferson County Solid Waste seems to be operating much less efficiently than 30-plus other counties.

Self-haul users account for 45 percent of transactions. Public records show that the 1,832 self-haul users who paid the minimum fee in March hauled an average of 74.8 pounds. Those minimum-fee self-haulers paid the equivalent of $267 per ton. Doubling the minimum fee to $20 would raise that to a whopping $534 per ton for those same small self-haul loads.

Solid Waste believes that by doubling the minimum fee they can persuade people to make fewer trips with larger average loads, thus reducing the cost per ton. While fewer trips will help reduce CO2 emissions, that will be irrelevant in a few years when electric cars and trucks will be the norm.

This attempt at social engineering is both offensive and potentially dangerous.

Forcing (“encouraging”) people to accumulate and store their garbage for weeks longer between trips will create public health hazards from increased pollution and vermin.

Rotting garbage will also produce all kinds of harmful emissions, including methane, which is 80 times more polluting than CO2.

Worse, the more unaffordable self-haul becomes, the more people will just throw their trash into the woods.

Speak up, contact your county commissioner, and stop Solid Waste from imposing their extreme fee increase.

Tom Thiersch



2 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • sharon.rader

    Thank you Tom for this information. I've written to Al Cairns and the BOC with the following questions/suggestions:

    1. Wouldn't the traffic bottleneck be better solved by having 2 workers in the booth during high volume times? That would double the speed of outflow. The worker in the booth works as quickly and efficiently as they can. But running back and forth between the 2 windows slows things down on both sides. Please don't tell me you can't do that because there is only one computer!

    2. If the recycling center were moved to a location outside the gate, recyclers would be better served, and that traffic would be diverted from the line. The county owns the entire parcel. This would enable another change that could ease traffic (see #3).

    3. Route exiting traffic around the building, through the relocated recycling area and onto the longer exit road. During low volume times, the old egress could be opened.

    4. Alternatively, can specific hours for commercial loads be considered, perhaps during the last 2 hours of the day? They are much slower to unload. Small homeowners could voluntarily avoid those times in order to avoid adding to the traffic.

    5. Finally, reopen on Mondays so you are not concentrating traffic on the fewer days of operation. Stop making excuses about staffing challenges.

    When I receive responses I will update this post.

    Friday, May 19 Report this

  • TomT

    You can reinforce your message, too, via Public Comments on May 25.

    Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) Meeting (hybrid / Zoom)

    The next meeting is scheduled for May 25 at 3 p.m. in the Public Works Office, 623 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, WA. Meetings are open to the public.

    You may attend in person, on Zoom https://zoom.us/join (Meeting ID 93595749934, Passcode 499738), or by phone 1-253-215-8782 (Meeting ID 935 9574 9934#, Passcode 499738.)

    Questions? Call 360-385-9160.

    Sunday, May 21 Report this