Why we need to pass the Solid Waste Levy again | Guest column

Typical scene at the Recycle Plaza

By Sarah Eppenbach

Citizens for Lopez Solid Waste Levy

In the nine months since the Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District took over operation of the Lopez Dump, 331 tons of garbage, 209 tons of separated recyclable materials, and 14.5 tons of commingled recyclables have left the island on local trucks – including our own District truck – with local drivers.

New services continue to be added, most recently an e-Waste program that enables free and responsible recycling of televisions and computers, and a morning opening to meet the needs of commercial customers. A cadre of dedicated volunteers logged more than 2700 hours of work, supplementing 2092 hours of professional staff time.

In sum: It’s working! Our locally-managed Lopez Dump is up and running and offering the services the community wants. The operation is not perfect; more needs to be done. But the Lopez Dump is back on track with free recycling and a sensible management scheme.

Garbage fees alone cannot pay for a responsible disposal service like this in a small island community. Some 40% of what people bring to the Dump comes for free, either as recycling or deposits at the Take-It-Or-Leave-It. Our innovative system requires multiple legs of support, including revenue from disposal fees and sale of recyclables, contributions, volunteer labor, and dependable tax support.

Lopez Proposition No. 1, the 2014 Solid Waste Levy, will provide $115,000 in tax revenue, enough to cover about one-third of annual costs.

Wait, didn’t we do that last year?

Yes, we did! But the State Constitution restricts levy funding for disposal districts to one year at a time. Until the law can be changed, the Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District must go to the voters for a levy vote every year. And every year the vote will be critical to the continued operation of the Lopez Dump and the well-being of the island we love.

The 2014 levy will be assessed at a rate of 11.155 cents per $1000 of valuation – a $56 bill for a property valued at $500,000. That seems a small price to pay for a well-managed community program that enhances property values and helps keep our beautiful rural island healthy and clean.

The November 5 ballot could be confusing, with both a County Proposition No. 1 (not the levy) and a Lopez Proposition No. 1 (the levy). Please cast your vote in favor of Lopez Proposition No. 1. Let’s keep up the good work at the Lopez Dump!

To read a Fact Sheet about the 2014 Solid Waste Levy visit www.lopezsolidwaste.org.