by Lin McNulty
It was a long day, beginning at 10 a.m., for the San Juan County Council Public Hearing at Eastsound Fire Station on Monday, August 19. But not nearly as long as the lengthy, ongoing process that finally brought the contract negotiations between San Juan County and the newly-established Orcas Recycling Services (ORS) to fruition.
Not only is the current three-member County Council the third iteration of the Council to have been involved in the ongoing negotiations, there has also been a management change at ORS and the Exchange fire on Saturday, February 9, 2013.
Present at the hearing were Public Works Director Frank Mulcahy, Solid Waste Program Administrator Sam Gibboney, County Manager Mike Thomas, Council Clerk Ingrid Gabriel, Prosecutor Randy Gaylord, and Council Staff Coordinator Susan Kollet. In addition, Jim Austin from the Seattle law firm Karr Tuttle Campbell, a specialist in solid waste issues and a part-time Orcas resident, reviewed the proposed contract in length for the Council and those in attendance.
Ten Orcas residents offered up public testimony, all in support of the ORS and San Juan County contract, with a few concerns that were later addressed by the Council and incorporated into the contract before final approval.
The contract is expected to bring five new jobs and, according to Michael Aley of Orcas Freight, with Orcas Freight as designated hauler rather than the previous off-island companies, nearly $400,000 per year will be brought into the local economy,
Council Member Bob Jarman expressed concern about the unresolved traffic issue at “the dump,” stating it was not necessarily good practice to pass that Orcas Road traffic problem off to ORS when the County has never resolved it on their own. Mulcahey stated that with what ORS will be paying to the County, the Public Works Department will be at the disposal of ORS to help alleviate those traffic tie-ups.
The term of the County agreement with ORS is five years plus one day, with the possibility of renewal in five-year increments up to a total of twenty years, and allows ORS use of Parcels A, B, and D at the Orcas Island Transfer Station. Parcel C is retained for use by San Juan County Public Works.
The agreement requires that ORS engage and retain the use of a reputable solid waste consulting firm for a period no less than nine months from the date of this agreement.
The original agreement stipulated an annual rent of $8,500, which was changed to a monthly rent of $700, in order to prevent ORS from having to put up a year’s worth of rent on day one of the contract.
At 4:10 p.m., after incorporating a few changes to the Contract and finalizing the wording on the Resolution, the County Council unanimously approved the Contract.
What’s next for ORS? We will check in with them in a couple of days when they have had an opportunity to catch their collective breath—although they are probably going to be hitting the ground running starting tomorrow morning!
ORS Board Member Susan Malins summed it up perfectly: “This is an historic moment.”