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CROW WING COUNTY BOARD: Do county property owners want to pay for recycling?

After years of effort, Crow Wing County Board Chairman Paul Thiede said he was finally making headway. 

Thiede said there has been a steady erosion of the $15 solid waste assessment with that money going to recycling efforts. The $15 assessment is on all properties with a buiding value of more than $1,000. The board established the charge in 1991 at $20 and lowered it to $15 in 1993. 

Forty-nine percent of the assessment funds staff, with 4 percent going to recycling such as the drop-off site at the landfill and courthouse recycling, 2 percent to yard/brush waste management, 7 percent to the household hazardous waste, 3 percent ot education, less than 1 percent to education and 34 percent to recycling grants for 15 drop-off sites and three curbside programs.

Doing away with the fee would mean a $150,000 hole in the budget and finding a different way to fund recycling, Administrator Tim Houle said. 

Thiede said at the very least he wanted to change the name of the fee to a “subsidizing of recycling or recycling assessment fee” so the public knows it is being used to fund recycling. 

As it is now, Thiede said the county doesn’t have a measure of how interested people are in recycling because it is being funded by the assessment. Houle noted the county may not have the legal ability to change the fund’s name. 

Thiede said it seems the county is holding down the tipping fee, such as those paid by waste haulers by load, by using the assessment to fund recycling. The landfill tipping fee is $45 per tons.  

Doug Morris, solid waste coordinator, reported a 1996 Supreme Court decision changed how landfills generated revenue for recycling and other programs when it determined communities couldn’t direct waste to a local municipal landfill.

Instead landfills had to price tipping fees to compete with private facilities and pay for recycling and other programs with alternative funding. 

Marv Stroschein, landfill operator, said the assessment and tipping fee structure was set up to have seasonal residents pay a share and have those using the landfill most paying a fee. The county is required by the state to have 35 percent recycling.

Stroschein said the yard waste, electronics and household hazardous waste are all part of the landfill. 

When the county board established the fee, Thiede said he didn’t believe they thought it would fully fund recycling. 

Thiede said individual homeowners may willingly take their recyclables to the landfill and exceed the 35 percent because they really wanted to do it. 

Staff members said they would look at options and what other facilities are doing and bring the issue back to the board. 

In other business, the board:

Heard and update from Environmental Services regarding projects completed in 2010 and goals for 2011. 

In Land Services, the county reported 772 permits were issued in 2010 compared to 750 in 2009 — a 3 percent increase. As far as new homes, the county issued permits for 134 in 2010 compared to 152 in 2009 — a decrease of 12 percent. 

Pence reported the enforcement cases had a closure rate of 74 percent, with 111 cases closing out of 149. Pence reported 95 percent of all cases have been closed since 2008, when in the past some cases were carried over for three, four and five years. The county reoprted there were 12 administrative decisions in 2010, such as allowing a boat house to be moved without a permit and extending a variance compliance date from 2008 to 2011, and allowing two temporary cell towers at Brainerd International Raceway. 

Goals for 2011 include a reducation of 50 pounds of phosphorous entering surface waters by implementing stormwater management plans and shoreline buffers. The end result, the county reported, would potentially reduce 10 tons of algae growth. 

Other 2011 projects include completion of the future land use map. Pence said another goal, coordinated through David Landecker, survey coordinator, is to fix “hundreds of errors, omissions and inconsistencies” between the paper and other records and the E911 database. 

Pence said the county is working with the Highway Department to cut down the time for posting E911 signs. The wait for signs can extend for six to nine months with residents putting up their own spray painted signs in the interim. 

In a report on the public land survey corner documentation project, Landecker said 4,404 public land survey corners were established between 1857 and 1865. Of those, 62 percent are “in place, measured and accepted” while another 34 percent have corner certificate documents. 

Landecker said there is the potential to utlitize St. Cloud State University students for a class project under his direction to complete the process by 2013  using existing records.

And of 50,000 paper records, Landecker proposed keeping 20,000 and scanning survey records so they’d be available electronically. 

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.