County board looking into solid waste charge; Hearing to be held Tuesday, public invited

Published 10:19 am Monday, August 1, 2016

The Mower County board is looking for public feedback on adjustments to how it assesses properties for its solid waste service charge.

The board will host a public hearing near the start of its regular 1 p.m. Tuesday meeting in the basement board room of the Mower County Government Center, 201 First St. NE, Suite 9.

As part of a continued effort to update its recycling program, the county board is adjusting the point system that aims to balance how much certain types of properties pay for solid waste programs based on estimated usage.

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The service charge was developed several years ago to provide and manage the funding for the county-run recycling and household hazardous waste programs.

The programs are funded through special assessments paid annually along with county property taxes. The funds are based on usage or usage potential with certain scores for residences and certain types of properties.

Under the new point system, single-family residential properties would be assigned five points for non-curbside recycling and eights points for curbside recycling, which would come with additional services. Under the old system, all residential properties were assigned five points.

After assigning points, county staff then divide the annual need by the total assigned points and come up with a price per point.

Last year, the assessment paid $5 per point, so residential properties paid about $25 for solid waste services based on the five points.

That price per point will change this year, as the assessment adjustments come as part of the county’s continued push to update its solid waste program.

While the county board voted against switching to single-sort recycling last year, the board has since made several other adjustments aiming to increase the amount of recycling collected in Mower County.

It voted to add plastics Nos. 3-7 to the Nos. 1 and 2 currently accepted at the Mower County Recycling Center and to increase pickup from every other week to the first four weeks of each month.

Those changes will likely start Sept. 1 with a new contract for Cedar Valley Services, which contracts to collect curbside recycling.

Last October, the board unanimously voted to increase the average household recycling rate from about $16.10 a year to $25 a year — which is still below the proposed $55 cost for single-sort — to help fund improvements that will include additions to the Mower County Recycling Center.

The board is also expected to spend $20,000 for additional outreach and education opportunities regarding recycling.

But with the continued adjustments to the program, its expected that 2017 solid waste costs will increase.

The assessment changes come as part of this continued push.

Under the new point system, nursing homes and assisted living facilities would be assessed a point per unit, and campgrounds would be assessed a point per camp site.

Restaurants, fast food businesses and bars would each be assessed 20 points, while joint bar/restaurant establishments would be assessed 40 points.

The point system also sets up small, medium and large point scales for certain types of businesses, along with unique assessments for certain businesses.

For example, Hormel Foods Corp. would be assessed 6,000 points — the same as before — while the Hormel Historic Home and Austin YMCA would be assessed 15 points.