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Lyon Co. raises waste assessments to support recycling

MARSHALL — In this fall’s controversy over curbside recycling service in Lyon County, county commissioners said they heard some clear messages from the public. County residents said they wanted curbside pickup to continue, and they would be willing to pay more to make it possible.

Based on those messages, commissioners approved an increase in the county’s solid waste assessment to be collected in 2020. On Tuesday, commissioners voted to increase assessment rates by $20. That would bring the rate up to $50 a year for properties in town, and $40 a year for rural properties.

The last time the solid waste assessment was raised was about 10 years ago, said Commissioner Steve Ritter. The new $20 increase breaks down to a change of $2 a year over that time period, he said.

The solid waste assessment goes to help pay for the Lyon County recycling program. Currently, the assessment is $30 a year for properties in town, and $20 a year for rural properties. In 2019, the assessments brought in a total of $288,340, which was less than the cost of the county’s recycling hauling contract at the time. Lyon County’s current solid waste assessment is lower than that of some neighboring counties like Lincoln County, at $55, and Redwood and Renville counties, at $68.

At a public hearing last month, several county residents said they would be willing to pay a higher assessment in order to keep curbside recycling service going. While county commissioners did go on to approve a new recycling contract, they also said they wanted to talk about possibly raising the solid waste assessment.

“We’ve got a number of options,” said Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer E.J. Moberg, speaking to county commissioners on Tuesday. It all depended on how much of an increase commissioners wanted to make. For example, raising the solid waste assessment rates by $10 would generate a total of about $399,000 a year, based on the current number of properties paying the assessment. Raising the assessment rates by $20 would generate about $510,000.

Commissioner Rick Anderson said commissioners heard “loud and clear” that county residents would be willing to pay more in their assessment to keep recycling services going. Ritter agreed, adding that rural residents had said they would also want to keep their rates lower than the in-town assessment, because there is no rural curbside service.

“I’m in support of a $20 increase,” Anderson said. However, he and other commissioners said the county would also need to take inflationary costs and the possibility of fuel surcharges into account when discussing the solid waste assessment in the future.

Commissioner Charlie Sanow said the county would need to keep thinking each year about whether to change solid waste assessment rates.

Commissioners voted to approve solid waste assessments of $50 for properties in town, and $40 for rural properties, to be collected in 2020.

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