By Lyndsie Kiebert
Bonner County commissioners voted unanimously Sept. 4 to increase solid waste fees starting in the 2020 fiscal year in order to account for several improvement projects over 10 years.
The annual solid waste fee per county household will increase about 62% from $115 to $185 in 2020, raising the monthly cost for Solid Waste services from the current $9.58 to about $15.41. The annual increase, along with several smaller increases to the cost of taking individual items like tires and TVs to the dump, will go into effect Oct. 1, so property owners will see the increase on their November tax bill.
The main project to benefit from the increased fees an upgrade of the Colburn Transfer Station.
Solid Waste Director Bob Howard called the location “the nucleus of all solid waste operations,” as all waste from the county’s various refuse sites goes to the Colburn Station for sorting.
Great West, an outside company the county hired to outline a 10-year improvement plan for Solid Waste, described the transfer site as “antiquated and undersized” in its Capital Improvement Plan report.
The Colburn upgrade, along with improvements at the Idaho Hill, Dickensheet and Dufort sites, are projected to cost about $8 million. The fee increase is meant to subsidize that figure, as well as help with the rising costs of day-to-day solid waste operations.
The unanimous vote in favor of the increase came at the conclusion of a public hearing in which several residents questioned the need for a 60%-plus increase all at once. Commissioners said Bonner County Solid Waste hasn’t seen any major improvements in 25 years, and in order to get ahead of rising construction costs, now is the time to start tackling the department’s major insufficiencies.
“The needs are so great that we should try to do this as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Jeff Connolly. “We could probably come in a lot lighter and do this over years and years and years, but I don’t know that we could wait 15, 18 years to do some of this.”
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