Clean Green fee to double in April; opens for season this weekend

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 25, 2014 

CLEAN GREEN BELLINGHAM

Kara and Gunnar Nelson of Bellingham hall yard waste out of their truck at the Clean Green Transfer Facility on Lakeway Drive and Woburn Street, on March 14, 2010.

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BELLINGHAM - The cost to drop off residential yard waste at the Clean Green Transfer Station in Bellingham will double to $10 a load this year.

Its open season also will be shortened by a month, closing on Oct. 26.

The city operates the transfer station, which is open to all Whatcom County residents, at Lakeway Drive and Woburn Street.

The City Council approved the changes by a 4-3 vote on Monday, Feb. 24, with Cathy Lehman, Michael Lilliquist and Roxanne Murphy opposed.

The proposal got the nod from the council's Public Works/Public Safety Committee earlier in the day, and then was sent to the full council for consideration.

Yard waste collected at the transfer station is processed and then hauled to Skagit County to be turned into compost.

The station reopens for the season Saturday, March 1 - and the fee will stay at $5 a load before doubling on April 5.

The fee increase and shorter season are needed to raise revenue and cut operating costs to help cover the $300,000 budget for this season, city officials have said.

Started in 1991 by the city of Bellingham and Whatcom County, the Clean Green program is subsidized by solid waste tax revenue from both entities. Money also comes from user fees.

The program cost about $275,000 last year.

At $5 a load last season, the user fee brought in about $125,315. The city contributed $105,000 and the county $45,000.

This year, the city and the county are both cutting back, contributing $25,000 each.

There's a question about whether the fee increase will be enough to help cover the program's cost.

"It's hard to say whether the amount of revenue would double with a doubling of the fee," said Eric Johnston, assistant director of operations for Bellingham Public Works.

That's because while the number of users dropped with previous fee increases, the amount of material collected stayed constant as people crammed more yard waste into a load - defined by volume versus weight by the city.

CLEAN GREEN OPENS

The Clean Green Transfer Station will open for the season Saturday, March 1, through Sunday, Oct. 26.

The station is at Lakeway Drive and Woburn Street in Bellingham.

Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The fee to drop off residential yard waste will be $5 a load until April 5, when it will double to $10 a load for the rest of the season.

A load is one pickup truck or trailer of comparable size. Trucks with an additional trailer will be charged for the additional load.

Cash is required; no change is provided.

Items accepted include:

-- Grass, leaves and garden trimmings.

-- Shrub and hedge trimmings.

-- Limbs less than 7 feet long and 8 inches in diameter.

Unsecured loads may be turned away, a new policy this year.

Learn more by going to cob.org and typing "Clean Green" into the search window. Or call the Bellingham Public Works Department at 360-778-7700.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com .

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