Crow Wing County may have as few as two recycling drop-off locations beginning next year.
The county board Tuesday, June 23, approved a request from land services to make the change, which will eliminate drop-off sites in Crow Wing Township and Nisswa unless costs are shared at 50% with those jurisdictions. The remaining recycling drop-off sites would be the Ideal Transfer Station and the Crow Wing County Landfill.
The policy change would see the county switching to a single contracted hauler with dual stream collection. The addition of a cost-sharing policy would mean any city or township in the county could host a drop-off location, although those jurisdictions would be responsible for 50% of the cost plus contamination charges. The local governments would also be tasked with securing and monitoring the site.
Recycling is available to Crow Wing County residents in two ways, depending upon where they live. In cities, including Brainerd, Baxter, Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes, curbside recycling is required and offered to all residents. At one time, Crow Wing County offered 12 drop-off sites throughout the county. Two recently closed sites include the city of Crosby and Crosslake Rolloff. Contamination, overfilled dumpsters and overall monitoring of the site issues, specifically, came into play in the Crosby decision. The county funds drop-off bins by redistributing state funds to the cities and townships, but in 2019 made the decision to discontinue funding curbside programs.
The landfill site and Ideal Transfer Station are located in the south-central and northwestern portions of the county, respectively, and serve a large number of residents, according to the county. The distance from downtown Nisswa to the Ideal Transfer Station is 10.9 miles. Downtown Crosslake is 12 miles from the transfer station. Farther south, the distance from downtown Deerwood to the landfill is 9.6 miles, while downtown Crosby is 6.8 miles from the landfill.
Land Services Director Gary Griffin told the board Tuesday state funding has not increased for recycling programs for a long time.
“The demands and the cost continue to rise without additional funding,” Griffin said. “ … Our revenues that aren’t going up are not keeping up with our expenses.”
County officials have previously noted in addition to state funding challenges, shifting demand in the recycling industry has led to decreased prices for recyclable materials and hardships for haulers.
In a letter to the board dated Tuesday, the city of Nisswa asked for the decision on reducing sites to be delayed.
“Because we know our current facility is used by many citizens who are not specifically Nisswa residents, we ask that the County continue the conversation with us to retain a recycling facility in Nisswa that is accessible to all Crow Wing County residents and visitors,” the letter stated. “In times of challenges across the recycling industry, we continue to see our recycling facility thrive.”
Griffin said because the change would not go into effect until 2021, the city has time to consider possible changes to its budget to keep the recycling program there going. In 2019, the county agreed to increase Nisswa’s funding allotment from $45,000 to $68,000, a request made by the city due to the site’s steady use.
In Cass County, Environmental Services Department Director John Ringle recently noted a large increase in recycling that’s been problematic, with a number of containers overfilled and contaminated due to people disposing of garbage and non-recyclable items. He opined a possible factor in increased usage was due to Crow Wing County’s reduction of drop-off sites.
The Crow Wing County Board approved of the changes to recycling policies unanimously Tuesday.
In other business, the county board:
Honored retiring employee Glow Bechard for her service as a highway maintenance specialist in the county highway department.
Approved the acquisition of a 25% interest of a 40-acre parcel near the Northland Arboretum. The county had 75% interest in the parcel as tax-forfeited property, while the remaining 25% was owned privately. The property owners, Sylvia and Christopher Sullivan, agreed to sell their interest for $12,300 to the county. The next step is for county officials to have discussions with the city of Brainerd and the arboretum to gauge interest in either of those parties purchasing the property. It may also be offered in a future public land sale auction.
Agreed to a partnership with the Pelican Lakes Association to assist with an aquatic invasive species decontamination site at Pelican Square in Breezy Point.
Accepted a $5,000 donation from CTC to Lake Country Cares, a COVID-19 safety campaign.
Supported the gambling application for Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center for events Sept. 10-12 and Sept. 18-19.
Approved the hiring of the following people: Hunter Furstenberg and Alex Vukelich, seasonal recreational assistants; Audrey Tulenchik, legal assistant in the county attorney’s office; and Nicholas Peterson, household hazardous waste technical assistant in land services.
Accepted the departures of the following employees: Cameron Waby and Jeff Pape, corrections officers in the jail; Bechard, highway maintenance specialist; and Carla Whiteman, social worker, community services. The board also approved replacement staffing for those positions.