Departing from a recently updated policy concerning recycling practices in the county, the Crow Wing County Board agreed Sept. 8 to grant the city of Nisswa’s request for a 50% funding match toward retaining a drop-off location.
While the match request itself fell within what is permitted in the policy, Land Services Director Gary Griffin explained to the board the policy dictated the match was dependent on a local municipality using whichever hauler the county ends up selecting for a contract for recycling pickup. Nisswa city officials wished to continue using Pine River-based Waste Partners rather than sign on to the unknown provider the county is expected to select later this fall.
Nisswa City Administrator Jenny Max presented the request to the board via Microsoft Teams, noting the Nisswa City Council and city staff are working to establish a long-term plan to develop an enterprise fund to support the recycling program for 20-30 years into the future. The county board agreed to eliminate the Nisswa site from its drop-off locations for 2021 in June, but Max said it’s a program the residents of the city would like to see continue. The funding request totaled $35,000, or half of the amount Waste Partners stated the program would cost next year.
“2021 may be a bit of a transition year for us and we’re trying to figure out how to get through that transition and to get to a really thoughtful 20- to 30-year program for our recycling center,” Max said. “ … One of the things that we’ve determined is to create a true enterprise fund and do this right for our community and also to provide an asset and an amenity we feel is valuable countywide, we just need some time to do that. … That for us is an immediate impact to our levy, and the county certainly understands what that means when you have a big change in programs and costs.”
Griffin told the board this bid was significantly lower than what the county paid for the location in 2020, which was $95,000. But he noted it’s possible the costs may be even lower when the county requests bids from haulers to service the entire program.
Chairman Steve Barrows said he understood why the city of Nisswa would be looking to have numbers nailed down sooner as it goes through its own budgeting process.
“To me, I guess I feel their pain up there that they aren’t able to really determine what that initial budget number is going to be,” Barrows said.
Commissioner Bill Brekken, who represents Nisswa as part of his commissioner district, said he felt Waste Partners had made a significant investment in the Nisswa site and improved the service provided.
Commissioner Rosemary Franzen asked Griffin how it would impact the county if each city desiring a recycling dropoff location were to choose their own hauler. Griffin said if every city or township wanted to do that, there wouldn’t be enough money to cover the costs. But Griffin noted Nisswa was the only city expressing interest in maintaining a location, with Crow Wing Township also expressing some interest.
“If we go back to each individual city and township just having their own contract with a hauler, we’re kinda back to what we were a year ago,” Griffin said. “They just come to us with a number … and we don’t help control that number with a broader impact with a larger contract so we can drive those costs down.”
County Administrator Tim Houle cautioned the board if it were to grant Nisswa’s request, it would also need to consider replicability with other potential requests. Houle pointed out that perhaps the situation posed by Nisswa’s request showed it might not matter whether municipalities choose the county’s hauler, as long as costs are fixed and held down.
After some additional discussion, Brekken made a motion to grant Nisswa’s request, which was seconded by Commissioner Doug Houge. The motion passed 4-1 with Commissioner Paul Koering opposed. Koering said he didn’t agree with departing from the policy already set by the board.
Approval of the request means there will be at least three drop-off sites in 2021 rather than the expected two: the Crow Wing County Landfill and the Ideal Transfer Station.
In other business Sept. 8, the board:
Recognized retiring employee Lydia Marohn, administrative manager for the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office. County Attorney Don Ryan told the board Marohn was the only employee of the attorney’s office who’d worked there longer than him. Ryan was first elected to the post in 1994.
Approved $259,449.99 in purchase requests for expenditures expected to be reimbursed with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds. The largest single purchase on the list was four interactive video teleconference, or ITV, stations to allow remote court hearings at the Crow Wing County Jail, totaling $69,627.96. Other significant expenses include 45 laptops and related equipment to support teleworking in community services, $44,251.90; an ITV station at the sheriff’s office, $31,397.90; controlled access for the historic courthouse, $31,100; 65 iPads for continuing education and training for the jail, $29,240.25; and video technology for Courtroom 1 to allow for social distancing of jurors while conducting jury trials, $29,697.73.
Accepted a $500 donation from the Brainerd Jaycees to the Crow Wing County Dive Team.
Authorized a service contract with GuidePoint Pharmacy to provide five flu clinics for county employees and their families.
Rescheduled an on-site public meeting for 9 a.m. Sept. 30 to examine a proposed cartway for Nelson Preserve, a general partnership, for access to property in the Second Assessment District. A public hearing on the matter was scheduled for 9:05 a.m. Oct. 13. The original date for the on-site meeting was Sept. 28, but was changed due to a scheduling conflict.
Approved the transfer of funds totaling $7,794.24 for staff and professional service costs incurred from 2017-19 from the Ditch 13 fund to the highway fund. Money in the Ditch 13 fund is collected through assessments on properties considered beneficiaries of the century-old agricultural ditch that begins at Lougee Lake, east of Pelican Lake, connects to Lake Edward and ends at the northeast corner of North Long Lake. A portion of the ditch also connects to drainage into Mollie Lake.
Approved the promotions and transfers of the following employees: Sam Bedard, computer-assisted mass appraisal/tax business manager, land services; Thomas Roloff, environmental services specialist in training, land services, promoted Aug. 24; Bren Smith, investigator, sheriff’s office, promoted Aug. 22; Nathan Smolke, investigator, sheriff’s office, promoted Aug. 22; Aaron Cronquist, investigator, sheriff’s office, promoted Aug. 22; Andy Galles, captain, promotion effective Jan. 1, 2021; and Troy Nash, lieutenant, promotion effective Jan. 1, 2021. Replacement staffing was also approved for a lieutenant and sergeant position.
Approved the hirings of Cassandra Daiker, senior technical/administrative specialist, attorney’s office, and Kaitlin Ditsworth, child support office, community services.
Accepted the departures of the following employees: Anna Hausken, 911 communications office, sheriff’s office; Chad Lardy, highway maintenance specialist, highway department; and Jill Crum, senior administrative/technical specialist, com