For the past several months, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly has been meeting behind closed doors trying to hammer out changes to the borough’s solid waste contract with Alaska Waste. 

The conversations have been in executive session, instead of in regular meetings, because talking about contract negotiations publicly could adversely affect borough finances. The conversations include legal advice from the borough attorney. 

The borough signed the contract with Alaska Waste in July 2019, and the new agreement kicked in this July. But there were problems, such as unclear listings for commercial dumpster rates, a clerical error that allowed for higher rates to be charged and several other ambiguities. 

Last Friday, the borough released a proposed first amendment to the contract aimed at cleaning up and clarifying some aspects. More than likely, it will not be the last amendment. 

“We’re resolving some of the main sticking points at this point, but we do have other issues that need to be addressed and we will return with additional amendments as appropriate,” Borough Manager Micheal Powers said. 

Borough Mayor Bill Roberts called a special meeting on Monday to hold a vote on the amendment, but the assembly voted to postpone the vote until its next meeting on Dec. 3. 

Members said that the contract was too complicated and that the time frame between when the amendment was made public and the vote was too short. Two new assembly members, Geoff Smith and Aimee Williams, both said they were not familiar enough with the ins and outs of the contract to take a vote. 

There are a number of changes the amendment would make to the existing contract. 

One is to add a roll cart option for businesses. The original contract said businesses needed to have a 2-yard dumpster and pay $156.67 for it. The amendment allows businesses to have roll carts — the dumpster’s smaller, cheaper cousin — and pay $65.37 for it instead. 

Roberts said this was the most important aspect of the amendment, and part of why he wanted to vote on it before the assembly took several weeks off. 

“Yes, there are other questions … but right now we are trying to get this set and allow for roll carts for commercial. ... That’s the reason I brought it up,” he said. 

Two, the amendment also clarifies that Alaska Waste cannot charge for dumpster rental and locking bars. Alaska Waste is now reimbursing customers it charged those fees. 

Three is the addition of a cleanup fee. Alaska Waste will charge each residential and commercial customer $4.83, once a year, to compensate them for cleaning up additional trash around roll carts. The company already keeps track of trash left within 20 feet of the dumpster and charges $5 for clean up. 

Businesses are treated slightly differently. If Alaska Waste goes to a commercial dumpster and finds a large amount of material around the container, then it can charge no more than $40.44 if the amount exceeds 1 cubic yard. 

Four is an adjustment to how Alaska Waste increases its fees over time. The company is allowed to raise how much it charges based on when the contract begins. Due to a clerical error, that date was listed as 2018 rather than 2020. The amendment fixes that. 

The assembly will take up the amendment further at its Dec. 3 meeting. 

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