By Ivan Raconteur
McLEOD COUNTY, MN After two years of research, meetings, and discussions on the subject, McLeod County Board adopted a resolution to move forward with an estimated $4,451,900 retrofit of its materials recovery facility (MRF) during Tuesday’s meeting, to transition to a single-sort recycling system.
The county will enter into a design-build agreement with Burns and McDonnell to design, engineer, and construct the retrofit of the MRF.
The vote was 3-2, with Board Chair Paul Wright and commissioners Sheldon Nies and Kermit Terlinden in favor, and commissioners Ron Shimanski and Jon Christensen opposed.
The project will be funded through existing revenue generated from waste abatement fees collected at the Spruce Ridge Landfill and commodity sales. No levy dollars will be used.
Robert Craggs of Burns and McDonnell, the county’s consultant, presented an overview of the proposed project and associated costs.
The project includes a 75-by-60 foot addition to the current 175-by-150-foot building, renovation of loading docks, and increasing from three to four docks.
Costs include $3,952,900 for the building and new equipment, $169,000 for an eddy current separator (for aluminum), $160,000 for a truck scale (which may be reduced by trading in the current scale), $130,000 for rolling stock equipment, and $40,000 for software.
The existing ferrous magnet (for tin cans) and baler will be re-used in the new configuration.
Commissioner Sheldon Nies said the county’s goal in the process was not to have any surprises. He added that if the county was going to do the project, it was going to do it right the first time, rather than adding components later at additional costs.
Board Chair Paul Wright said he and other commissioners made 19 presentations to city councils and other groups to explain the proposed project.
The county currently processes 6,000 tons of material annually, and this is expected to rise to 10,000 tons in the first year, generating an additional $500,000 in revenue.
Nies said the payback period for the project is expected to be less than five years.
Construction and implementation of the new system is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.
In opposing the motion, Christensen expressed concern about the increase in cost.
Shimanski said he is supportive of the single sort system, and he understands that the communities in McLeod County want it, but said he was also apprehensive about the cost increase.
Shimanski said when he and other commissioners were going around the county to present the project to city councils, the estimated cost was $2.8 to 3.5 million. Then, a week before the vote, it jumped to $4.5 million.
He said he hasn’t had time to process all the information, and his “no” vote was intended to slow down the process and be more deliberate in the decision.
He said late changes added 30 percent to the cost of the project, and he wanted to be sure the county was providing the best value for its residents.
According to the resolution adopted by the board Tuesday, the purpose of the change is to increase the quantity of recycling, provide convenience for county residents, provide economic benefits, and employment opportunities for adult handicap individuals.
The county’s current recycling rate is 42.2 percent, which exceeds the state mandate of 35 percent.