There’s was no wavering in the Spokane Valley City Council’s decision to look to Sunshine on Tuesday.
Despite a last-ditch attempt by Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke to buy more time, the council unanimously voted to contract with Sunshine Disposal and Recycling to handle the hauling of Spokane Valley’s garbage after the present agreement with Spokane ends in November.
The private company, based in Spokane Valley, has promised a long-term deal at a set rate. County officials countered that their rates will be competitive, possibly $94.30 per ton – but they need more time to work with the city of Spokane, which operates the Waste-to-Energy facility in the West Plains.
Sunshine has proposed a rate of $98.15 per ton, but future increases would be kept under the rate of inflation. But council members said they would be working in partnership with the company, not in an advisory capacity as they would with the county.
“We voted unanimously last week to go with Sunshine Disposal,” said Council Member Ed Pace. “I’m ready for us to sign a contract.”
Council Member Chuck Hafner noted that the negotiations between the city and county – which will take control of two transfer stations in November and is working to create a regional partnership with other local municipalities for solid waste – have been going on for years.
“This has been a long process,” Hafner said, adding that the decision to go with a private company instead of the county isn’t personal. “It’s not whether we like each other.”
Council Member Rod Higgins said the county has been reluctant to provide firm numbers and it was only in the past week that any have been provided.
“To my mind they were always available,” he said, adding that to offer them now is “insulting.”
Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard said the outcome could have been different if county officials had provided a firm rate proposal sooner.
“I wish we could have had this last week,” he said. “I don’t know if it would have changed anything. But if you’re going to work with the city of Spokane Valley, give us your best.”
Mayor Dean Grafos noted that the city has already 14 contracts with Spokane County and that it continues to be a good partner of Spokane Valley. But a partnership was never offered in this particular case.
“We’d have had an advisory role only, not a place at the table,” Grafos said.
Sunshine will begin work to expand its transfer station on University Road north of Interstate 90, where Waste Management trucks will haul city waste. No changes will occur in the existing curbside service currently provided, city officials say. However, trash will likely be taken to landfills in central Washington instead of the burn plant.
Officials in the cities of Liberty Lake, Airway Heights, Millwood and Deer Park are exploring their own solid waste options.