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Stevens County to adopt single-sort recycling program

MORRIS – Single-sort recycling will be coming to Stevens County as early as this summer.

On Tuesday, the Stevens County Board of Commissioners voted to raise the county solid waste service fee, a yearly charge collected on property tax statements, to help pay for the initial investments needed to implement a more expansive recycling program.

Since mid-April, the county's Solid Waste Committee has been meeting with Troy Engebretson of Engebretson Disposal and Recycling to hash out the details of the program, which could be up and running by July 1, 2013.

Under the new single-sort program, all city residents in Stevens County will get a 64-gallon lidded container – the same size as current garbage containers. These containers will be picked up twice per month.

Rural residents will continue to use the recycling trailers left in locations around the county throughout the month, but will not have to sort their materials when they drop them off. Businesses and schools will also have the option to request a recycling container.

Under the new program, residents can recycle more materials including newspapers, aluminum cans, tin cans, glass bottles and jars, types one through seven plastic bottles, paper bags, magazines, office paper, milk and juice boxes, phone books and cardboard.

Environmental Services Director Bill Kleindl estimates that the county can increase the recycling rate from about 20 percent to 30 percent, an increase of 800 tons per year, with this program.

If recycling does increase, it will reduce the amount of money the county pays for garbage disposal services, he said.

There is, however, an initial capital cost for the program: the recycling containers and an additional truck to pick up the containers throughout the month. The board voted to cover these costs by increasing the Solid Waste Service Fee from $45 to $65 per year.

“I felt that this was the proper and most economical way to fund the program,” said Kleindl. Other funding options that were considered included a monthly fee or increasing the overall county tax levy.

During discussion on the proposal Tuesday, Commissioner Phil Gausman asked if there would be an educational process before the new program is in place.

“We'll be needing to keep a close eye on this, and if it looks like this is faltering, we're going to have to work on the educational side of it,” he said.

Kleindl said there will be letters sent out to city officials as well as a flyer for residents, and the new recycling containers will have stickers on them that outline what materials can be recycled.

Commissioner Jeanne Ennen said she spoke with Natasha Mortenson, Morris Area FFA advisor, who said students might be interested in taking on a recycling education program for one of their projects next year.

The board will approve a final, five-year contract for the program after Engebretsons finalizes a contact with Bueckers Environmental Services of Sauk Centre, the company who will be accepting and processing the county's recyclable materials.

County prepares to sell GIS data to vendors

The board approved a fee schedule for the GIS Department which will allow the county to sell the raw data to companies looking to build that data into their systems.

At a previous board meeting, County Coordinator Brian Giese said the intent of the GIS Committee is to put the information in the system online for everyone to have access to use. The fees would be applicable to the raw data, so only those who want to build Stevens County's data into their own system will have to pay for it.

The county is not quite ready to start selling GIS data yet. The foundation layer, a parcel layer, still has a few issues that need to be corrected, Environmental Services Director Bill Kleindl said.

Interested parties will need to fill out a data request form and sign a GIS data distribution agreement to purchase GIS data.

Other business

• The board approved two-year assessing contracts with the city of Morris and Don Gieselman. Assessor Judy Thorstad said she thinks this will be the last contract that Gieselman signs to complete assessment services for Morris.

• The board voted to add a $1 per cubic yard fee for materials deposited in the demolition debris landfill. The fee will help cover costs for intermittent/final cover, land acquisition, annual monitoring and permitting at the landfill.

• The board formally approved several new hires including Janice Amundson as an eligibility worker in the Human Services department, Victoria Townsend as an IT technician, Kirby Marquardt and Dean Boldenow as seasonal employees in the Highway Department and Tyler Henricks as a summer intern with the Highway Department.

• The board re-appointed Brian Giese as county engineer for another four-year term.

• The board voted to support a new program at Ridgewater College to train ditch viewers for redetermination of benefits for county ditch systems. If the Minnesota River Board can get 10 counties to support the program, it will cost each county $1,000. In return, participating counties will have the first chance to hire graduates of the program.

• The board scheduled two upcoming work sessions. During the first on Monday, May 13 at 1 p.m. at the Stevens County Courthouse, the board will look at developing some guidelines for county staff for preparing the 2014 budget. On Monday, June 3 at 1 p.m., the board will learn more about a proposal to develop a five-county public health program.