Issaquah City Council extends county solid waste agreement until 2040

March 12, 2013

By Peter Clark

The Issaquah City Council has extended its existing solid waste interlocal agreement with King County to 2040.

King County approached the city with a restated draft to continue to provide services well into the future and indicated that should Issaquah wish to deny the restatement, it would face higher disposal rates to the county.

“The King County solid waste interlocal agreement provides the city to be a part of the regional solid waste system, including system planning, transfer stations and disposal at the King County Cedar Hills landfill,” Councilman Joe Forkner said in his introduction to the revised agreement at the March 4 City Council meeting. “The county has asked for an extension of 12 and a half years to the agreement through 2040. The primary reason for the amendment is to allow for long-term bonds for capital improvements to the aging transfer stations’ system, hoping to keep garbage disposal rates lower than they would be.”

Changing the existing agreement that was begun in 1988 was met with concern by the Council Utilities, Technology and Environment Committee, chaired by Forkner. Although the city could refuse the extension and continue with the county’s services until 2028, the city’s rate would immediately rise, Forkner said. The agreement would also bind it for an extended period to the waste disposal direction of King County.

“The primary issue is that the amended ILA ties the city to the county till 2040 with no option to opt out. This means the city is bound by decisions the county makes in that time,” Forkner continued.

However, of greater consideration is the closure of the Cedar Hills landfill, estimated to occur in 2025. Without entering into the amended agreement, the city would be responsible for managing the removal of its solid waste. The extension means King County continues to assume those duties.

Beyond that, Forkner identified several other benefits in his recommendation for the council to approve the amended and restated agreement. He said it provides the city an adviser role and also clarifies items that were vague in the original agreement.

“It doesn’t sound like we have any other options,” Councilwoman Stacy Goodman said, “unless we want to start a landfill.”

Forkner nodded and replied, “Or, find a different way to dispose.”

The council approved the agreement unanimously.

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