Compulsory garbage gets complicated for one resident

With the difficult economy it's sometimes not easy for the retired community to pay their utility bills.

In the City of Port Orchard, some are not happy about paying mandatory garbage fees, even if they can afford it.

“I just want to pay to dispose of my garbage where I want,” Port Orchard resident Ron Bates said. “I just want to haul it where I want to take it and not pay anyone else.”

For seven years, Bates didn't pay the city's garbage fees because he lived on Sedgwick Avenue in the county. Instead, he took his garbage to Seattle, where he has owned a rental complex since 1964.

Bates pays Waste Management $300 per month in Seattle to dispose of his own waste as well as the garbage of his tenants.

After moving within the city's taxing zone on Rockwell Avenue and continuing to not pay for garbage service for another four years, things got a bit ugly for Bates.

“One of my neighbors turned me in,” he said. “Waste Management threatened to turn me over to collections if I did not pay for garbage collection.”

According to the Port Orchard's municipal code, “The collection, removal and disposal of solid waste within the city shall be compulsory and universal.”

If City of Port Orchard residents fail to pay their mandatory pick-up garbage bill, then Waste Management, the company that Port Orchard contracts with, turns delinquent payers over to collections agencies and the city places a lean against the owner's property.

“I was a developer of custom homes," Bates said. "My son does projects. We do a lot of hauling—building. If we have a project, I might go over to my apartments in Seattle once a day. We have big dumpsters and yard-waste recyclers over there."

City Clerk Brandy Rinearson said that there is no record of the Port Orchard City Council voting to pass a levy rate for garbage service, so that calling mandatory garbage service a tax is not accurate.

"There are no special extra taxes for garbage service," She said. "Just what the normal state taxes are."

While Waste Management is required to pay various state, county and municipality taxes for operating as a business, she has no information on file showing that the city has created specific taxes for garbage service.

Bates is mostly unhappy with the idea that he pays for his garbage in two areas when he doesn't throw away his garbage at his Port Orchard residence.

“The city doesn't have any taxes on utilities other than the basic state taxes,” she said.

Under the contract for garbage service between the city and Waste Management, the company is given the authority to collect garbage bills from citizens for its pick-up services.

Waste Management charges residents $13.65 per-month to empty a single, 35-gallon garbage cart, emptied every other week. Garbage service every week for a cart of equal size costs $17.35. A 64-gallon cart costs $20.75 to empty weekly and a 96-gallon cart costs $25.65 every week to empty.

Some citizens in Port Orchard are suffering economic difficulties that are only exacerbated by the mandatory garbage ordinance, says Port Orchard resident Gerry Harmon.

“When you see people having such a hard time, they have no choice because the choice was made for them. People who live outside the city limits, they can have it hauled off if they can take care of the garbage themselves. In the city you don't have a choice," she said.

Harmon said that she owned a rental 25 years ago on Kitsap Street and that she wanted garbage service shut off to the property while it was unoccupied, but was told that to shut off her garbage service, also meant shutting off her water capacity as well.

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes said that the city will continue to mandate garbage pick-up but will consider creating different, special-case waivers for different citizens.

“Very small garbage containers and people that are way down on income — it would be a combination," he said.

The Port Orchard ordinance mandating garbage service for citizens dates back to 1940. Matthes said that health and sanitation are some of the basic reasons why the city mandated garbage service for residents.

“If you just let it be optional then garbage collects, which can lead to rats," he said.

Port Orchard's contract with Waste Management is up for renewal in June 2013.


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