News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Commissioners OK seven-year waste hauling contracts

The three waste hauling companies that serve rural residents of Linn County will be offered new seven-year contracts, Commissioners Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker agreed at their Sept. 19 meeting.

Linn County has previously agreed to 10-year contracts, but after considerable discussion in recent months, the commissioners moved to seven years with a condition that before the end of that time period, the county will establish a competitive bidding process.

New contracts effective Oct. 1 will be offered to Republic Services in the Albany area, Pacific Sanitation in the Santiam Canyon and Sweet Home Sanitation Services in the Sweet Home and Brownsville area.

There was discussion about the possibility of five-year contracts, but all agreed that may not give the companies enough time to amortize expensive new trucks and other equipment, as well as give the county the proper amount of time necessary to develop a bidding process.

The commissioners also agreed that developing the process may not necessarily mean other sanitation companies will actually participate in the bidding process. They also emphasized that this does not mean the current companies have not provided quality service.

Commissioner Sprenger said she is a competitive person by nature and believes “competition brings out our best game.”

Commissioner Tucker agreed, adding that he believes there is a “robust system” in place and he “appreciates what you do.”

Commissioner Nyquist asked how much time remains before the Coffin Butte landfill north of Corvallis will be full.

Jackson said current estimates are 17 to 20 years.

In July, the commissioners approved a rate increase for each of the companies, to help offset escalating costs of fuel, recycling and labor, due to inflation.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Discussed the possibility of live-streaming board meetings. Commissioner Sprenger is a proponent of the concept, noting it was common practice when she served in the State Legislature. Sprenger said she queried department heads and some elected officials and received mostly positive and some negative feedback. Commissioner Tucker said he didn’t see what problem live-streaming would fix. Nyquist said he has looked into the cost of such a project and he would rather spend the estimated $50,000 to $100,000 per year in staffing costs on Veterans Services or for new rowboats at Clear Lake Resort. He added that he looked at Marion County’s video system and only 20 to 30 people check into the meetings. Commissioner Sprenger said she may likely bring up the issue again in the future. People can participate in Linn County Board meetings electronically by calling into a teleconference at 541-704-3002; PIN number 8442.

• Were told by Linn County Health Officer Dr. Adam Brady that there were 55 births (32 girls and 23 boys) and 124 deaths, including three suicides, in August. There was discussion about COVID projections and Commissioner Nyquist was concerned if people will have access to free COVID tests in coming months. The commissioners asked Public Health Director Todd Noble to check into test kit availability and develop a plan to ensure an adequate local supply, especially for residents of communal living facilities.

• Approved easements for the Goldfish Farm Road project with Raymond Sassaman and Amber Sassaman for $11,998 and the Oregon Department of Transportation, no cost. 

• Approved the closure of Old Oak Drive in Tangent for that community’s annual Tangent Harvest Festival from 9-11 a.m. on Sept. 23.

• Approved a personal services contract with the Oregon Family Support Network not to exceed $115,440 to provide trauma-informed, culturally and linguistically appropriate services and materials for youth and families.

• Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Lebanon to provide transportation services to and from eligible developmental client’s employment. The State of Oregon has increased the reimbursement rate from $15.12 to $23.18 per ride.

• Approved a contract with Madison Avenue Collective to develop a new website for the Public Health Department not to exceed $118,500. The county’s current website provider cannot provide a program that allows HIPAA medical forms to be submitted on-line.

• Approved agreements with Oregon Health & Science University to provide unpaid internships for nursing students and with Fordham University to provide unpaid internships in the area of Master’s of Social Work.

• Were informed by Fair & Expo Center Director Kris Barnes that August was an extremely busy month and that September is also busy. He said the facility has added 11 new dog shows for the coming year. A recent show was almost a week long. He said the annual Christmas bazaar in early December, has already registered more than 200 vendors and there is a waiting list.

• Property developer Lynn Merrill, said he is frustrated because it appears the Planning Department and Road Department are implementing development requirements for driveways and private roads that exceed standards adopted in Linn County Code. He also said that he was told the requirements are related to the International Fire Code as applied by our local fire jurisdictions. The commissioners asked the county administrator to meet with the Planning & Building Director Steve Wills and Roadmaster Wayne Mink to discuss the issue.

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