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Crow Wing County Board: Commissioners approve fee increases for new year

Crow Wing County will charge more for some services starting New Year's Day after a public hearing about the proposed changes to the county departments' fee schedules occurred.

The Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners discuss at its Wednesday, Dec. 26, meeting, adopting the county departments’ fee schedules and policies for 2019. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
The Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners discuss at its Wednesday, Dec. 26, meeting, adopting the county departments’ fee schedules and policies for 2019. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Crow Wing County will charge more for some services starting New Year's Day after a public hearing about the proposed changes to the county departments' fee schedules occurred.

The board adopted at its Wednesday, Dec. 26, meeting deletions, additions and changes to last year's fee schedules and policies in an effort to recoup some of the cost in providing services.

"The business managers of each division were tasked with reviewing the fee schedules and bringing any proposals forward to the county board for their consideration," Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson said.

Among the proposed changes, land services fees were broken down by programs and services-such as environmental, assessing and customer services-to make things clearer.

"I just want to make sure everybody knows that we're not trying to make a profit on electronics and mattresses," Commissioner Paul Koering said.

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Solid waste changes include an increase from $14 to $28 to dispose dirty mattresses in the county landfill, an increase from $7 to $14 to recycle queen- and king-sized mattresses and springs, and an increase from $5 to $10 to recycle 28-inch or larger televisions.

"The big issues are mattresses. We have our great recycling program for them," Land Services Director Gary Griffin said.

"It's really the king and the queen sizes that really are the harder ones. When you have somebody out there manually moving them around and stuff, that takes up greatly more time than the twins or the fulls."

Commissioners Doug Houge and Koering sit on the county solid waste committee.

"We're losing money and even with this fee increase, we're going to be not even breaking even yet, but it helps to get (us) closer to breaking even," Koering said.

A separate charge was added for sleeper sofas, unrelated to other types of furniture, because the mattress and springs are part of a sleeper sofa. The fee was increased to $14.

"They come in, they usually have the mattresses still in them as well, so identifying those, and, of course, weight, heavier, bulkier to kind of maneuver," Griffin said of sleeper sofas.

The solid waste/recycling fee assessment was set at Wednesday's county board meeting at $15 per household in 2019.

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"With that, we're still going to be, in the recycling programs, about $20,000 in the red on an annual basis, so it's not that we're making a lot of money on this," Griffin said.

"We're trying to limit-not preclude-as much out-of-county waste as we can, so that will also help us when we were drastically less than what some other counties right next to us charge."

For mattresses or bedsprings to be recycled, they must be clean, dry and visible for inspection by the landfill office attendant. Mattresses must also be free of bedbugs.

"A lot of times the mattresses that come in there, they have to be of a quality that they can be recycled, and a lot of them are in real bad shape or bedbugs or something where they have to go in the landfill, and that, of course, takes up space in there and costs us money," Koering said.

The county will offer more valuable coupons to property owners in the county to help offset the increases in landfill fees. The coupon value will increase from $5 to $10 with Wednesday's board approval.

"Gary, you've several times now mentioned out-of-county participation. Can we not exclude out-of-county (items), bringing those to the landfill?" Commissioner Paul Thiede asked.

Griffin replied, "Yes, we sure can, but it's at what level of extent do you want to try and do so? That landfill is very close, if you will, to Aitkin, so we get quite a few Aitkin County residents."

County Landfill Operator Marv Stroschein also told the board the difficulties in determining the origin of what is brought to the county landfill.

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"When people come in with their residential garbage, they can be from Aitkin hauling their mother's garbage in Crow Wing County, so it's very hard to say you're out of county or if you're not," Stroschein said.

"We've been talking to the people ... trying to get them to use their own facilities in their own counties."

Koering made the motion to adopt the fee schedule and policies for next year, and Nystrom seconded his motion, which was passed without objection from the other county commissioners.

"Sometime, someday, people are going to have to realize that recycling is expensive and to do it, there's a service to that," Stroschein said.

"We're trying to get people to recycle because it's the best thing to do, and we're subsidizing that a little bit with the landfill fee. ... We try to be the fairest we can, and we try to get people to recycle, and that's the best way of the future."

In other business, the county board:

Authorized entering into an agreement between the county and MEnD Correctional Care to provide certain health care services by health care professionals to county jail inmates effective March 1, 2019, through Feb. 28, 2022. The monthly fee for services is $51,062.54.

Approved final payment for the total contract amount of $2,635,932.02 to Anderson

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Brothers Construction Co. for bituminous surfacing for county highways 3 and 18.

Accepted a donation of six used exercise machines from the Crosslake Fire Department for the sheriff's office's new workout room.

Approved board commitments of existing fund balances for other post-employment benefits, information technology, facilities, veteran services van, dive team, mounted patrol, Triad, employee recognition program, wellness program, honor guard, Thirty Lakes Watershed Community Services Fund, Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Project, highway fund and 2019-23 highway improvement plan construction.

Approved the tobacco license renewal application of Zorbaz of Crosslake.

Approved the agreement between Minnesota Power and the county, so the county can install and maintain antennas, cables, wires and associated equipment on the power company's poles.

Approved the release of the road surety bond in the amount of $10,625 for the plat of The Sanctuary, as recommended by the county highway department.

Approved granting authority to the administrative services director to designate depositories, conduct banking transactions and initiate electronic funds transfers due to the departure of the finance director, and the senior business and financial analyst.

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