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Wilsonville to join solid waste transfer program


by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Republic Services solid waste transfer station on Ridder Road in Wilsonville.The city of Wilsonville could experience a small financial boost from proposed changes to Metro’s Solid Waste Community Enhancement Program.

At the same time, however, that would likely mean an increase in local garbage and recycling rates.

The city estimates it could take in more than $70,000 a year from this source. The catch for garbage customers is that those funds would come from “tip fees” that garbage and recycling haulers from around the metro area pay to use central transfer stations in Wilsonville and other locations. Any increases are passed on to customers.

“It’s unfortunate the money has to be generated out of the community,” said Wilsonville City Councilor Julie Fitzgerald at the council’s Feb. 3 meeting. “It doesn’t feel like we’re getting paid back. It feels like we’re paying ourselves.”

Nonetheless, Fitzgerald and her council colleagues directed city staff to develop a formal intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Metro to establish the program in Wilsonville.

“Once you have that IGA, that’s your operating mandate,” said City Manager Bryan Cosgrove. “We (would) have control, subject to Metro agreement that we’re spending the money according to their parameters, and it would be a joint effort. It’s not an overly complex process in my experience.”

Because Wilsonville is host to an eligible solid waste facility - the Willamette Resources and Republic Services transfer station on Ridder Road - it is eligible under the Solid Waste Community Enhancement Program to collect money from the transfer facility for projects that beautify the community. Under Metro rules, those funds may be used for projects that “rehabilitate and enhance the area within the city limits related to the transfer station.”

The program is administered either through a Metro-administered committee such as the North Portland Enhancement Committee or via local government through an IGA with Metro. Cities that have taken the latter route include Oregon City, Forest Grove and now Wilsonville.

The changes being examined by Metro include applying the community enhancement program to all eligible transfer stations in the tri-county metro area. Currently, stations in Wilsonville, Sherwood and Troutdale do not take part. Also under consideration is a tip fee increase from 50 cents per ton of solid waste to $1 per dry ton. The current rate was established in 1988 when the program was created.

Any approved changes would take effect in July at the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Other options to administer the community enhancement program considered but rejected by the council include forming a community-based nonprofit organization or allowing the transfer station itself to establish a good-neighbor agreement with a local neighborhood group.

A final vote on the matter by the Metro council is expected in the near future to allow the process to go forward. For information visit oregonmetro.gov.