Garbage station revisited: Can't live with it, can't live without it?

The Federal Way City Council agreed to send a letter to the King County Council outlining concerns regarding the now proposed exclusion of a new garbage/recycling transfer station in South King County.

Late last year, the Federal Way council voiced its displeasure toward the possible placement of the transfer station on the borders of Federal Way on South 320th Street. At the time, the county took that option off the table, and settled on potential sites in Auburn and Algona.

Since that first scuffle over the transfer station, one option now being proposed is to not build a new transfer station in South King County at all. This will have a ripple effect on costs to the cities and residents in South King County, according to Ken Miller, deputy director of public works in Federal Way.

“Without transfer station access, service costs will increase for our rate payers,” Miller said at the council’s Oct. 1 meeting. Waste Management has estimated a $2 million to $3 million increase in costs for the whole of South King County, which includes Auburn, Federal Way, Pacific, Algona and unincorporated parts of King County.

“These costs would increase and be ongoing, and since they’re ongoing, they’d be subject to inflation,” Miller added.

Miller said the letter to the King County Council points out that building a new transfer station, financed through bonds, would in some respects cost less. The costs of the bonds would be lower because they’re not subject to inflation, and the increased costs would also end at the time the bonds are paid off.

Along with the cost increase, the city is concerned that in the absence of a South King County transfer station, people will find other ways to get rid of their garbage.

“Lack of transfer station access could also increase or spur illegal dumping along our rights-of-way, and would also be inconvenient for self-haulers,” Miller noted.

Contingent upon all of this is the various cities entering an interlocal agreement with Waste Management and the county. That  gives the cities some leveraging power, Miller said.

“The letter reminds the county that regional equity must be built into the implementation of the plan…The letter underscores the city’s position by stating our willingness to consider rescinding the amended and restated solid waste interlocal agreement,” Miller said.

Councilmember Dini Duclos, who’s been the council’s representative on the Metropolitan Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee, said that other cities have indicated they’re going to withhold their agreement if a new transfer station isn’t included for the South King County area.

“This particular (interlocal agreement), which five cities have not signed and are not going to sign, could impact our citizens of Federal Way, as well as South County, very negatively,” she said.

Duclos shared that this displeasure being expressed by the various cities is already having an effect on county leaders.

“I think because of some of the rumblings at the (Sound Cities Association Regional Policy Committee RPC)…got across to county staff and the director of the department that cities were unhappy,” she said.


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