Vote yes for prop 1 for solid waste levy | Guest column

Recycle volunteers Julie Van Camp and Mac Langford.

Recycle volunteers Julie Van Camp and Mac Langford.

By Rhea Miller

Citizens for Lopez Solid Waste Levy

The Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District has had another successful year. Through July 2014, 267 tons of garbage (up 12 percent from this time last year) and over 167 tons of recyclables (up 17 percent), not counting metals, batteries, E-waste, and this year textiles, departed Lopez on local trucks – including our own truck– with local drivers. In July 2014 the District diverted an average of one ton a day of goods through Take It or Leave It.

A cheery, competent group of volunteers joins the professional staff of David Zapalac and Gary Lawrence, who both share the management role, and the ever-positive Bob Chonka as facility operator. Volunteers have logged more than 1,624 hours of generous labor through June 2014.

This year saw the demise of the mangled cardboard recycling bins. The clean reclaimed plastic bins that replaced them are transportable by a manual forklift and have a drain in the bottom to release any gathered rainwater. Textiles have been added to the recycling menu, and new clear signage has been installed. The signs in large part are made from recycled road signs.

A quick comparison with other island communities reveals a $20 minimum fee at the San Juan Island Transfer Station and $9 per can charge at Orcas (a dollar more than Lopez), with recycling at $4 per can. The Lopez Dump remains on track with free self-separated recycling, $8 per can of garbage, Take It or Leave It, and a clean and tidy facility operated with local talent.

Garbage fees alone cannot pay for a responsible disposal service like this in a small island community. Lopez’s innovative system requires a small amount of dependable tax support to join with the lower disposal fees, sale of recyclables and volunteer labor and donations.

Until the law can be changed, which legislators say is a daunting endeavor, the Lopez Sold Waste Disposal District must go to the voters for a levy vote every year. And every year the vote is critical to the continued operation of the Lopez Dump and the well-being of the island we love.

To assure that the district continues to be successful into the future, a volunteer group of citizens has formed to support Lopez Proposition No. 1, the Solid Waste Levy of $115,000 for 2015. The 2015 levy will be assessed at a rate of 10.7 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value, down from 11.155 cents in 2014. The lower rate, with slightly increased property values, will generate the same $115,000 levy for 2015 as for 2014; a $54 bill for a property value at $500,000. That is 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 4 ballot will present several levy propositions, so please remember that the Lopez Dump is Lopez Proposition No. 1 and join others in voting YES to keep it local.

To see a fact sheet about the 2015 Solid Waste Levy visit