Numerous Battle Ground citizens who spoke during a Sept. 17 public hearing regarding the concept of mandatory garbage collection within the City of Battle Ground were all in agreement that they don’t see the need for mandatory garbage service and that it will be difficult for people with set incomes to afford an additional bill each month.
“My husband is terminal, we are on very strict social security income and I have 10 children, we can’t afford another bill,” said Michelle Bondurant during the public hearing. “I’m sure there are other people in the community who live on a strict income who can’t handle another bill. I can’t, there’s no way.”
During at least two previous city council meetings, Battle Ground city staff and council members have discussed the possibility of mandatory garbage collection within the city. Currently in Clark County the cities of Vancouver, Ridgefield, Camas and Washougal have adopted mandatory garbage as a part of their municipal code.
Most people who currently live in Battle Ground don’t notice an alarming garbage problem in the city, but city officials think the use of mandatory garbage collection might help maintain the clean and inviting environment the city currently has. During a July 16 study session of Battle Ground City Council members and staff, officials discussed the possibility of establishing a mandatory garbage collection service within the city. During the Aug. 20 council meeting, council members and the mayor instructed city staff to move forward with an ordinance requiring mandatory garbage, leading up to the public hearing held Sept. 17.
City staff is still currently looking into options with mandatory garbage collection and have not yet brought a complete ordinance before council for them to vote on.
According to Public Work Director Scott Sawyer’s staff report: “Instituting mandatory trash collection can be a divisive issue for a community. Opponents of mandatory trash collection cite a loss of resident control in deciding how and when to handle their garbage. Proponents of mandatory garbage cite the environmental, esthetic and overall health benefits, including a decrease in illegal dumping, build up and long-term storage of garbage in residential neighborhoods, and a decrease in undesirable insects and rodents that can occur when garbage is not properly dealt with in a responsible manner.”
Also according to the staff report, currently of the 6,078 residential homes and 438 businesses within the City of Battle Ground, 4,424 residential homes and 198 businesses (including 20 multi-families) have voluntary accounts with Waste Connections, Inc. for garbage, household recycling and yard debris services.
According to Sawyer’s report, the current voluntary garbage collection rate, including a 10 percent utility tax, is $14.83 per month. This compares to the current transfer station (dump) rate of about $16.36 per month, which does not include additional cost of fuel, mileage, time, pollution and congestion at the transfer station.
“Not all of the roughly 2,000 people who are not voluntarily participating in the garbage program dispose of their garbage improperly,” Sawyer said. “But some people do let it pile up or dump their garbage in business dumpsters. The City of Battle Ground would be responsible for enforcing a mandatory garbage service, Waste Connections would not be the ones who enforce it.”
Sawyer said city staff has not received too many complaints regarding garbage pile up and he said the number of complaints can probably be counted “on your hand.”
Dennis Carlson, a resident who works for the city who spoke during the public hearing, said he doesn’t believe there is a garbage problem within the City Limits of Battle Ground. He said although he sometimes sees “rubbish” (old lawn mowers, etc.), he doesn’t really see a problem with a pile up of garbage. Although he said he didn’t really want to say it, Carlson said he thinks this is just another way the city is trying to create revenue in order to operate.
Nick Linardos, who lives in Yacolt, but has a daughter who lives in a condo in Battle Ground, said his daughter lives alone and barely produces any trash. The trash that she does produce, Linardos said she brings it to their house in Yacolt on the weekends and they put out their garbage and recycling about every 8-10 weeks, including his daughter’s.
“I don’t see why we need to have mandatory garbage when people just don’t generate that much,” Linardos said. “Some people don’t generate enough to have to pay for it monthly.”
About five other people spoke during the public hearing, none were in favor of the possibility of mandatory garbage. City staff will continue researching different possibilities regarding mandatory garbage collection and will bring that information back to council in the future.