The City of Port Angeles, with Citizens for Carlsborg and the Peninsula Trails Coalition, announce that a settlement has been reached with Waste Connections, Inc. (WCI). The settlement, which comes after extensive negotiations, concludes a multi-year dispute and protects ratepayers from significant and long-term utility rate increases.
The dispute began in 2017, when WCI asserted a series of claims that it was entitled to additional compensation under its contract with the City. The claims asserted by WCI would have required significant cost increases in the rates paid by all customers of the Regional Transfer Station in eastern Clallam County. The City agreed with some, but not all of the claims made by WCI, and ultimately, the two entities were unable to reach a consensus.
In order to maintain an affordable solid waste program, the City terminated its contract with WCI and began performing solid waste services in-house. These services include recycling and yard waste collection within Port Angeles city limits and full operation of the Regional Transfer Station and Blue Mountain Transfer Station, which serve residents of both Port Angeles and Clallam County. These services are in addition to residential garbage collection and transfer station scale operations, both previously performed by the City.
By performing these services in-house, the City can ensure that utility rates are as low as possible. As part of the City’s public process, rates are discussed and deliberated in an open and transparent Cost of Service Analysis (COSA) each year. During this process, the community's ability to afford rates is carefully considered and weighed prior to adoption of both the rates and the Budget.
After the City terminated its contract, WCI initiated a process to construct a new solid waste transfer station in Carlsborg, WA. The City objected to that proposal, as did the community group, Citizens for Carlsborg, and the Peninsula Trails Coalition.
The City’s termination of the contract and WCI’s proposal to build the Carlsborg transfer station generated two lawsuits. This settlement resolves all the pending and asserted issues.
The settlement, reached with the assistance of a mediator, has allowed the City to protect the interests of its customers, while avoiding unnecessary taxpayer litigation expenses. The agreement resolves claims made by WCI, which suggested that the City of Port Angeles was in breach of its contract and owed approximately $4.8 million, plus interest and legal fees. Under its terms, the City will pay WCI a total of $1,990,000 over the course of two years.
In addition, the settlement requires WCI to limit construction and operation at its current facility in Clallam County and abandon its current development plans for a solid waste transfer station in Carlsborg.
The development of a new transfer station was a great source of concern, as the property, located adjacent to the Olympic Discovery Trail, would negatively impact the trail and surrounding community. The facility would have also negatively impacted ratepayers in Clallam County, as the rate is inversely related to the quantity of waste processed.
“PTC is extremely pleased to have been able to collaborate with the City, AM Systems, and the Carlsborg community to achieve this result,” said Jeff Bohman, President of the Peninsula Trails Coalition (PTC). “Our mission is to achieve and maintain the Olympic Discovery Trail. An expanded Waste Connections operation at their Carlsborg location would have represented a serious, precedent-setting harm to the ODT. This settlement protects the trail, ensures regional waste and recycling activities are properly planned and implemented, and helps limit utility costs that many of our members and supporters pay. We are also particularly thankful to the City Council and staff for enabling our joint participation in this successful effort. It’s a result that the entire county can be pleased with.”
“The Citizens for Carlsborg, an informal association of residents, businesses, visitors, and supporters of the Olympic Discovery Trail, is grateful for the outcome. It allowed us to 'breathe easy,' knowing that we are united in our mission to share the strengths of Clallam County in a positive way,” said Dayhawk Kim of Citizens for Carlsborg. “We are thankful to the City of Port Angeles and the Peninsula Trails Coalition for the tireless efforts to reach a common goal. And we hope citizens, businesses, organizations, and local governments continue to work together.”
“From the onset of our discussions and negotiations with Waste Connections, Inc., the City of Port Angeles has prioritized affordability to the citizens of Port Angeles and Clallam County. As executed, this settlement further protects the interests of our citizens for the long-term,” said City Manager Nathan A. West.
The City is pleased to have reached an agreement that ensures our customers will not be burdened with sudden, unnecessary and prolonged rate increases. We are focused on delivering quality services to our customers and look forward to continuing to do so in a fiscally responsible manner.
For more information, please contact City Attorney William Bloor at firstname.lastname@example.org.