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Lyon County sets Sept. 30 hearing on curbside recycling

MARSHALL — Lyon County commissioners said Tuesday they’ll look for options to continue curbside recycling pickup, and they’ll also hold a public hearing to get county residents’ feedback on the matter. But with the county’s current recycling contract set to end in a couple of weeks, the timing for both actions will be close.

After discussion Tuesday morning, commissioners approved a request for proposals for curbside recycling, which would be due Sept. 27. They also voted to set a public hearing on curbside recycling at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 30. The commissioners’ next regular meeting, where they could take action on the issue, is Oct. 1.

A few different items related to the future of the Lyon County recycling program were on the agenda at Tuesday’s county board meeting. In August, commissioners had rejected two bids for new recycling hauling contracts, and earlier this month they moved to purchase new roll-off recycling containers for county drop sites, as well as advertising for a truck driver to empty the containers.

The decision sparked a lot of public response, including letters from the cities of Marshall and Tracy in support of keeping curbside pickup. More than 20 people, including officials and community members from area cities like Marshall, Russell, Cottonwood and Florence, attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“This is not actually a public comment period,” or a hearing, Commissioner Gary Crowley said of the meeting. But commissioners did take a few questions from residents, and Crowley said he appreciated receiving residents’ concerns and statements in support of curbside service.

Commissioner Charlie Sanow also said he wanted to make a couple of clarifications for the public.

“I never said we weren’t going to have a public hearing” on curbside recycling, Sanow said. While commissioners talked about the possibility of a hearing on Sept. 3, no one moved to call for one at that time. Sanow said he also never said Lyon County would permanently discontinue curbside pickup.

Lyon County Environmental Administrator Roger Schroeder presented updates on some factors that could affect the transition to new county recycling containers. Schroeder said he had placed orders for roll-off containers for 14 county drop sites. However, he said, “They probably will not arrive until mid-October.” He was seeking the board’s input on how to proceed. “The most logical thing to me would be to reach out to the current contractor,” for an extension of service, he said.

Dan Ritter, of Southwest Sanitation, said he had offered to temporarily extend recycling service for the county, “But I never heard anything back.”

Lyon County Attorney Rick Maes said that since the contract with Southwest Sanitation was officially being terminated, the county couldn’t accept the extension. However, Maes said he thought the county could seek a short-term recycling contract, but it would have to approach at least two possible vendors.

Schroeder said he had also been speaking with Jon Mitchell, of the Redwood/Renville Regional Solid Waste Authority (RRRSWA), about hauling recyclables to Redwood Falls. Lyon County could have a transfer station, where recyclables are sent on to Dem-Con materials recovery facilities in the Twin Cities area, or it could possibly process recyclables at RRRSWA, Schroeder said. He said Mitchell needed more time to come back with information on whether RRRSWA could handle the additional volume of recycling, as well as costs per ton for Lyon County.

Schroeder said he had also looked into options for Lyon County to trim the cost of continuing curbside recycling service. It could be possible for the county to reduce the roughly 8,500 total pickup stops for recycling, he said. One option would be not to do pickup for apartment complexes with more than eight units, where recycling participation was already spotty, Schroeder said.

“Another consideration would be to not do curbside in some of the smaller communities,” Schroeder said. Potential cutoff points could be communities with 150 or fewer households, or communities with 200 or fewer households. At the 150-household level, communities like Amiret, Florence, Garvin and Taunton would not have curbside recycling pickup. At the 200-household level, communities like Ghent, Lynd and Russell would also be excluded.

Commissioner Rick Anderson said he thought the county should look into the 150-household cutoff, instead of 200.

Other cost reductions could come from picking up recyclables every other week instead of weekly, Schroeder said. Commissioners said there were also other aspects of the recycling program to consider, like whether the county’s solid waste assessment rates needed to be increased.

Commissioners said they would like to hold a public hearing to get more feedback on the recycling program. However, they also didn’t want to potentially leave the county without recycling service in October. Sanow said the county should put out a request for proposals for curbside recycling, with some of the possible cost-saving options Schroeder brought up.

Commissioners voted unanimously to put out a request for proposals for curbside recycling pickup, which would include options like hauling weekly versus biweekly. The RFPs would be due at 10 a.m. on Sept. 27.

In two other separate motions, commissioners first voted to hold a public hearing on the recycling program at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30, at the Lyon County Government Center, and then voted to direct Schroeder to work with Maes on negotiating a short-term recycling contract if needed.

Even after that discussion, commissioners still had two items on the agenda related to recycling. One was purchasing a roll-off truck to haul recyclables, and one was declaring the recycling sheds being replaced by roll-off containers as surplus property for sale.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to purchase a 2015 Freightliner roll-off truck at a price of $138,800. Schroeder said the truck could be shared between the Lyon County landfill and the recycling program. Commissioner Steve Ritter cast the dissenting vote on the motion.

Commissioners voted to declare recycling sheds in Amiret, Florence, Garvin, Ghent, Green Valley, Lynd and Taunton as surplus property, and to advertise their sale locally.

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