Dump opposition spills into hauling arena
Doyle serves on the board of the Stop the Dump Coalition, which is trying to block expansion of Waste’s Management’s Riverbend Landfill, serving effectively put it out of business. He said franchise extensions have been virtually automatic in the past, and wondered if the county couldn’t get better service at a lower cost if it instead put the business out to bid.
“The way it’s structured is entirely non-competitive,” he said. “It would be better to allow competition.”
Traditionally, Western Oregon Waste served the western half of the county and Newberg Garbage the eastern half in the Newberg-Dundee area. In recent years, both have changed hands, Western Oregon Waste being picked up by Recology and Newberg Garbage by Waste Management.
Both companies are represented on the committee — Recology by Dave Larmouth and Waste Management by Bill Carr. They argued in favor of forwarding a positive renewal recommendation to the county board of commissioners, but were outvoted by their four colleagues.
Under current rules, Waste Management holds a 10-year contract to collect trash and operate a transfer station in the Newberg area, renewable every 2 1/2 years. And in the past, renewals have been routinely granted.
In fact, Assistant County Counsel Todd Sadlo said the county ordinance governing trash collection franchising made no provision for the kind of bid process Doyle was advocating.
Sherrie Mathison, the county’s solid waste coordinator, said long-term agreements are in place to allow trash collection companies to conduct business in a predictable fashion. She said banks would not loan them money to purchase costly new equipment with anything less than a seven-year agreement in place.
“I’m not sure why you think a 10-year contract is unreasonable,” Larmouth told Doyle after he completed his presentation. He said the county’s franchising system seemed fair to him.
He turned to Mathison and asked her if she had been getting complaints about Waste Management’s service.
Mathison said the county periodically gets complaints, but the volume has gone down since Waste Management had instituted recycling collection on its rural routes. She said some customers of the new service had requested smaller containers, and Waste Management had provided them.
At the conclusion of the discussion, Chair John Arand moved to delay the vote as Doyle had requested, saying he had not reviewed the franchise agreement in many years and would like to take that opportunity. He said he would also like to see how cities and counties in other parts of the state are handling trash collection and what rates they are getting.
Member Jennifer Redmond went even farther, saying she would like to find a way to open up trash collection to competition.
Sadlo said Larmouth and Carr might have conflicts of interest when it came to voting on the matter.
But Larmouth said he saw no grounds for abstention, as the committee is only empowered to make a recommendation to the commissioners. It wields no independent authority.
He and Carr then proceeded to cast the dissenting votes, but failed to bring any colleagues along. In accordance with majority sentiment, the committee will have the staff collect additional information and present it at a work session in September.
In other business, the committee voted unanimously to demand JP Morgan Chase clean up a Sheridan-area nuisance property seized through foreclosure. The recommendation will be forwarded to the county commissioners for further consideration and possible action.
The unoccupied house is full of trash and waste. A code enforcement officer said the bank had been promising a cleanup for months but had never followed through.
If the county gave the bank a formal demand that went unheeded, it could commission a cleanup on its own and place a lien on the property to recoup the cost.