Commissioners discussed fines imposed by Winneshiek County Sanitary Landfill for cardboard contaminated loads at their March 6 meeting. Andrew Hatzenbihler, solid waste administrator, reported the county has been charged $150 per ton (normally $68 per ton) on a trailer load delivered to the landfill on February 13 because of cardboard contamination.
Hatzenbihler said Winneshiek County is firm on their policy which does not accept corrugated cardboard, which can easily be recycled. Cardboard unnecessarily fills limited landfill space. He suggested cardboard contamination is coming from the haulers. A load from just one hauler can contaminate a full 20 ton trailer load. Fillmore County is footing the bill for the additional cost for contaminated loads.
The board discussed ways to address the problem including educating haulers and also its citizens. Utility bills could include educational material on proper disposal; what to recycle and what not include in the trash.
Commissioner Randy Dahl suggested a surcharge for haulers who bring in contaminated loads. He said individual haulers have to pay attention to what they are putting into their truck.
County Attorney Brett Corson stated so far Winneshiek County isn’t willing to budge at all. The five-year contract says we have to comply with their rules and regulations. The possibility of terminating the contract was also discussed.
Hatzenbihler wanted to avoid fining the haulers. But, a surcharge would be the easiest way to get a haulers attention. He said he would do what he could to educate haulers and the public.
Commissioner Marc Prestby suggested talking to Harter’s Quick Clean-up to see what could be done. A motion to pay the $2,460 bill for a 16.4 ton load ($150 per ton) contaminated with cardboard was approved. Prestby wants a letter included with the payment with some language stating that if the fines continue Fillmore County will consider terminating the contract.
Approval was given for Hatzenbihler to attend Household Hazardous Waste OSHA Safety and Health, plus DOT training (required for Household Hazardous Waste Program) at St. Cloud from April 24-26.
Hauler licenses for 2018 were approved. Hatzenbihler reported that all of the haulers paid the $75 renewal fee and had required materials in on time.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (passed and signed into law in December 2017) contains a tax incentive for certain investments in Opportunity Funds.
Marty Walsh, Fillmore County EDA director, reviewed the new federal program called “Opportunity Zones,” that was created with the new federal tax law.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has asked for help to designate low income census tracts (potential Opportunity Zones) in the state that could be eligible to host “Opportunity Funds.”
Investors will be able to transfer money from their investments into an Opportunity Fund. If the money is left in the fund for 10 years, any realized capital gains from the original investment will be forgiven (tax free). Any gains realized during the life of the Opportunity Fund investment, during the 10-year period, will also be tax free.
Opportunity Funds will be available to fund economic development in designated Opportunity Zones. No guarantees will be made on the investments. Just like most investments, there is an opportunity for gains and the possibility of losses.
Census tracts in Fillmore County that could qualify for the program include areas surrounding Preston, Harmony, Canton, Mabel, Lanesboro, Whalen, Rushford, Peterson, the City of Rushford Village, Spring Valley, and Ostrander.
The number of eligible tracts in the state will be narrowed down. The governor will look for local support and potential for economic development. There is no cost to the county. Walsh noted that development would likely be in communities with infrastructure that could provide for potential developments. The program will attempt to attract attention to underdeveloped areas.
Ranking of the census tracts will be based on response from local EDAs, banks, and other community groups. A resolution to support the Fillmore County EDA to seek inclusion of eligible census tracts in the county and to work with appropriate agencies and community groups was approved unanimously. Commissioner Duane Bakke asked that the county EDA keep the board updated.
Other business in brief
• A resolution was adopted to support mental health bonding/state capital investments. The Association of Minnesota Counties has identified mental health bonding as a top legislative priority for Minnesota counties in 2018. The resolution points out the gaps in the mental health continuum of care. Individuals with mental health crisis issues are often sent to jail or other facilities that are not equipped for their care. The resolution calls for investments in new permanent supportive housing and regional behavior health crisis program facilities. Fifty-two counties have already passed resolutions of support.
• Approval was given to advertise for six bridge replacement projects (Carrolton Township, Sumner Township, and Carimona Township and LOST projects on CR 105, CR 101, and CR 104.) County Engineer Ron Gregg reported that there is a total of $14.7 million of construction work planned for Fillmore County this year.
• Sheriff Tom Kaase asked for and received approval to begin the process to hire part-time intermittent deputies for court security positions. The hires were discussed in both Law Enforcement and Court Security committees. Both committees leaned toward hiring part-time sworn deputies. The officers would be dedicated to just court security. Kaase said they will look for experienced candidates who are interested solely in the security position. Potential candidates may be retired officers.
• Vickerman noted changes in responsibilities of staff in the Auditor/Treasurer office. Approval was given to transition two accounting technicians to accounting technician leads. Hourly wage increases for the two positions will cost the county a total of $3,500 per year.
• The appointment of Trinity Johnson to the Planning Commission for District 2 was approved as recommended by commissioner Dahl.