A plan to move forward with a new Deschutes County landfill stalled after a county commissioner expressed reservations about the guidance it provides on how waste should generally be managed.
Commissioner Phil Henderson said during a meeting Wednesday he wanted more time to consider food waste, rate structure and other suggestions in the plan before voting to adopt it.
“We should be looking at the costs of things,” Henderson said. “I don’t know if it’s our goal to redirect behavior, but I don’t think that’s been fully vetted.”
Where the county’s trash should go and how it should get there has been an ongoing discussion ever since projections showed Knott Landfill reaching capacity by 2029.
In response, the county created a new solid waste management plan to explore the benefits of either building a new landfill or trucking garbage to landfills in the Columbia River Gorge.
The commission, as well as 93% of county residents surveyed earlier this year, appear to support building a new landfill. But Henderson said he disagreed with other aspects of the management plan, which also reviewed other issues related to the county’s waste disposal system and outlined possible solutions.
“I just feel like there’s some of these recommendations that we should look into it further,” Henderson said.
Henderson took issue with a suggestion to standardize rubbish can colors and what trash pickup companies say to homeowners. He believes the point of the management plan was to evaluate whether a landfill should be created in the county.
“That’s just an example of something that makes me wonder whether we should be doing an across-the-board recommendation,” he said.
He also questioned the philosophy and cost behind other suggestions, such as incentives to encourage people to throw away less trash by charging more for larger cans and implementing a countywide food waste collection program.
Timm Schimke, the county’s director of solid waste, said the intent of the plan was to provide general direction as waste management evolves in the future. Any specific recommendations would have to be vetted and decided upon by the commission before moving forward.
“(The plan) is, ‘These are the ideas we have, the direction we want to go,’” Schimke told the commission. “Do we incentivize by rate structure? Those are decisions that will be made after discussion with you guys.”
Commissioner Tony DeBone agreed, saying he sees the plan as a starting point for future discussions.
“It just kicks us out to different decision points,” DeBone said.
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