Waste removal, recycling misuse continue to plague commissioners

By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

The Fillmore County commissioners got back to business on Tuesday, June 5, handling a relatively short agenda.

Solid Waste Administrator Andrew Hatzenbihler came before the board with a request to be allowed to continue using a medical waste removal vendor, Stericycle, for collection and disposal of medical sharps at the Fillmore County Resource Recovery Center. He noted that needles from medical syringes pose a hazard to the workers and to the public. The commissioners obliged.

Discussion then turned to how to mitigate illegally dumped materials on county property and at the county recycling sites stationed around the county for rural residents’ use. Options discussed included installing cameras because of how ridiculous some of the efforts of those who misuse the sites have become — including traveling across the county to dispose of mattresses so that person will not get caught dumping at their local site.

Hatzenbihler observed that often, the same people who do such things also bring their unwanted mail and deposit it alongside, making it easy to track them down and make them take responsibility for their actions.

The county will continue to pursue options to mitigate growing piles of trash at recycling sites.

Next, Hatzenbihler needed the Board’s permission to advertise for requests for proposals for re-permitting the Resource Recovery Center. He said the permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) under which the county operates seemed to be very out of date – the county’s permit expired in 2011.

Hatzenbihler related the only MPCA permit paperwork he could find was the permit approved in 2001 and that it would require an engineer to determine how Fillmore County’s waste should be handled. He noted that would cost anywhere between $8,000 and $12,000. Once a letter from the engineer has been drafted, the county has 90 days to submit that and wait on the MPCA’s reply.

Commissioner Duane Bakke suggested that Hatzenbihler check with Harter’s, the hauler that holds the county’s waste contract. He felt Harter’s might have an engineer that can carry out the survey that is needed to determine how the site will function in accordance with MPCA guidelines and submit a design plan for the renewed permit.

Sheriff’s office

Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Beck returned to the boardroom to update the commissioners on leasing squad cars for the sheriff’s department. Recently, Fillmore County has perused entering into an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management to lease squad cars.

Wong Nystrom, of Enterprise, attended the meeting alongside Beck, and outlined the possible savings that his company could provide through leasing and the company’s maintenance-tracking program that will cost $5 per vehicle.

Bakke asked Beck, “How many vehicles are we planning on putting on this?”

Beck replied that the sheriff’s office has considered up to 15 or 16 vehicles and observed that the department’s transport van may need replacement at some point in time.

Information provided by Beck and Nystrom from Enterprise showed that the county has options to lease vehicles for three- and five-year terms and that the monthly cost of leasing was estimated at $2,680 for four all-wheel-drive vehicles, totaling $32,160 annually.

The estimated total cash outlay was $106,800 after the vehicles reached the end of their terms. This resulted in an approximate savings of $8,100 when compared to the purchase price for new Chevy Impalas, the preferred vehicle Fillmore County deputies use as squad cars, estimated at $114,940, or an annual per-vehicle average of $26,700 leased and $28,735 purchased.

Coordinator-Auditor-Treasurer Bobbie Vickerman and Beck agreed that because the fiscal year is halfway through, the county would do well to request the annual cost be halved for 2018.

Vickerman said, “What Kevin is saying is that if you calculate six months of that $106,000, it would be only $53,400.”

Next, the matter of the cost of equipping the squad vehicles came up, and Beck assured the commissioners that as much equipment as possible would be transferred from the current squads to the new ones.

Bakke inquired about whether the computers the county purchased a few years ago, and which were installed in the squads to allow officers to carry out writing their logs, would be used. Beck replied they would most definitely be transferred to the new squads and he hoped they would last for quite some time.

Commissioner Marc Prestby made a motion in favor, and Bakke seconded, adding he felt the accompanying maintenance contract should be included and Vickerman be part of the maintenance tech program training because she is most likely to be involved in the financial end of the vehicles’ leases.

Commissioner Mitch Lentz commented that the board would sign the lease agreement instead of the sheriff because of the potential for the leasing program to be expanded throughout the county and encompass the county courthouse, office and highway vehicles.

Election issues

Vickerman entertained the prospect of piloting electronic poll books at the primary election. She reported she and auditor-treasurer’s office employee Carrie Huffman, who served as interim auditor-treasurer for a little over a year, attended a conference on the use of electronic poll books.

“We did get grant dollars to try poll pads, but not knowing what they were about, we didn’t get any,” Vickerman explained. “They really help eliminate a lot of errors — when new people register to vote, if they have to spell their name or if they are new voters and have to register, these help in (looking people up). We still follow state guidelines — we still use ink to sign because Minnesota doesn’t allow people to sign on the poll pads — and I did contact Attorney (Brett) Corson and have him review the contract. Carrie and I would be responsible for training.”

The commissioners chose to approve the pilot program.

SWCD resolution

Donna Rasmussen, of the Fillmore County Soil and Water Conservation District, brought forward a resolution in support of the Southeast Minnesota Wastewater Initiative Program. She asked that the board sign it, along with another resolution for amendments to the county’s agreement with the Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board that would change how voting will be done. Specifically, she noted, there are two commissioners from each county representing, but only one vote is counted. Rasmussen pointed out that if the two vote in opposition to one another, they could easily cancel out the other’s vote. The changes were given approval.

Highway department

Highway Engineer Ron Gregg and Maintenance Supervisor Brent Kohn came to the meeting with a purchase request for a Piranha mulcher unit to help maintain the county’s gravel roads.

Gregg cited the cost is $5,000.

Kohn stated the possibility that the county could rent the machine to Arendahl Township might help recoup the cost.

The commissioners voted in favor.

Other business

 The consent agenda encompassed granting a fireworks permit for Schrage Displays to hold a private display on June 30 through July 4; for Eagle Cliff Campground to fire off some sparks on July 1; and for Chatfield Western Days to hold its annual fireworks finale.

Street closures for Harmony’s Fourth of July celebration were approved by the sheriff and highway engineer.