Setting the record straight on Solid Waste Bond

By Dan McDonald
Reader Contributor

I’m baffled. 

I recently noted the Bonner County Republican Central Committee is coming out against the Solid Waste Bond on the May 18 ballot. I thought Republicans stood for lower fees and taxes, yet they are opposing a bond measure that allows the county to take out a low interest loan, at 1.75%, that will assure rates stay flat. Failure of the bond to pass could very well result in a dramatic increase in the solid waste yearly user fee. By opposing the bond, the BCRCC is supporting dramatically higher fees.

Bonner County Commissioner Dan McDonald.

The other talking point is the county hasn’t given everyone enough time to understand the issue, yet when we raised the solid waste fee in 2019, we spoke specifically to getting the rate to a point where we could qualify for the low interest loan so we could get the much-needed work complete and avoid the addition years of inflationary increases we would see if we just waited and save the money. 

Taking a loan and doing the work now, when it will be the lowest costs we will see, saves the taxpayers from paying the extra costs due to inflation. So not only is the interest rate low, and not only does the loan allow us to avoid dramatically increasing solid waste fees, but the taxpayers also realize the savings from not being strapped with inflationary costs in the future. 

Here are the facts: we have been talking about going after the loan since 2019, and we have had three public workshops with poor attendance and virtually no attendance from BCRCC members. BCRCC members have not reached out to any of the commissioners or our Solid Waste director, save one person, with questions or seeking information. 

The bond simply allows the county, under the law, to apply for the USDA low interest loan; there is, again, no increase associated with this bond measure. We need to spend some money improving the waste transfer infrastructure, as the county has failed to gradually improve this infrastructure since 1996.

From 1996, the amount of trash we handled had more than doubled by 2018, even though our population didn’t remotely get close to doubling and we are at a critical juncture. In many cases we are having to handle trash two and three times, our household hazardous waste facility was shut down by Idaho DEQ and we’ve been forced to use a more expensive outside contractor and inconvenience the public. 

Part of the plan is for a new household hazardous waste building that our county employees can operate at a much lower cost, saving taxpayers even more.

In the end, again, the Solid Waste Bond on the May 18 ballot does not increase the yearly user fee, actually builds in efficiency and savings for taxpayers, and helps us tackle a growing issue with our waste transfer capacity — something that can no longer be ignored. 

Choosing to oppose this will only result in increased costs and fees that will hurt all Bonner County residents. Reject the uninformed BCRCC and vote to save taxpayer money, vote in favor of the Solid Waste Bond.

Dan McDonald is chairman of the Bonner County Board of Commissioners.

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