The city of Le Center has a new plan of action for city refuse and recycling, including a Wednesday night shift at the recycling center, a new garbage truck and an additional fee on residential and commercial water bills.
After considerations last year to switch to a private waste service, City Council opted to continue the city-run service on Feb. 11 while voting to open the recycling center for an extra shift and to pursue a new garbage truck. A refuse and recycling committee, made up of councilors Christian Harmeyer and Collin Scott, City Administrator Chris Collins and Public Works Director Curt Roemhildt held two meetings to determine how the city would run its waste service in the future. At the Wednesday, March 18 meeting, the council voted to adopt all of the committee’s recommendations.
Changes to the recycling service
Going forward, the recycling center won’t just be open on Saturday mornings. The 7 a.m. to noon Saturday shift will still remain open to Le Center residents, but a new Wednesday night shift from 4:30-7:30 p.m. has been added as well. The change came in response to complaints from residents, particularly those with children and large families, who told the council at a public hearing that they didn’t have time to drop off their recyclables on Saturdays and would often wait weeks before they could schedule a time to drop them off. The city is still in the process of coordinating staff to work the Wednesday shift, but Roemhildt has confirmed that he will be there on March 25 for the new shift.
County residents outside of town will still not be allowed to dump their recyclables at the center. The facility is only available to Le Center residents. The ban on out-of-town dumping at the recycling center was imposed at the beginning of the year after Le Sueur County cut ties with the recycling center. County residents must instead dump their recyclables at county shops located at Highway Department maintenance shops in Le Center, Le Sueur, Waterville and Cleveland.
So far, out-of-town dumping has not been a significant issue, said Roemhildt. Because of this, the committee did not recommend investing in a fence to keep trespassers out or keeping a police officer on the premises. Instead, the committee determined that staff can keep county residents out of the recycling center and redirect them to county shops. The committee advised City Council to look into purchasing cameras to monitor the recycling center, but the city has not sought out bids at this time.
In order to keep the city’s waste and recycling service profitable, City Council voted to add $2 to the solid waste fee on the water bills for residential properties, apartments and commercial buildings. In total, Le Center residents will be paying $7 a month on their water bills for solid waste.
The committee calculated that, in order to cover costs of a new shift at the recycling center, added security, a new garbage truck and the lost $27,000 from when the facility was subsidized by the county, the city would need to charge each resident an additional $1.86 per bill and chose to round up the charge to $2. With the new charges, the recycling center will also be open to apartments and businesses.
“We felt that everyone who pays the water bill should be able to use the recycling center, apartments and businesses,” said Councilor Harmeyer.
On top of that, the city is investing in three concrete pads with roll-off dumpsters at the recycling center. The costs, which are estimated to be near $150,000, have been rolled into the 2020 street project.
Changes to the garbage service
In addition, the city is considering contracting a new hauler to take and dispose of the city’s recycling. Le Center will continue to use services from LJP until the end of 2020 but will begin seeking bids from other companies for a three-year contract.
Waste will continue to be picked up from Le Center residents’ households on Thursday mornings, but soon the city will be utilizing a brand new truck.
Le Center City Council approved the purchase of a $163,684 freightliner from Harris Truck Center with a 3.46% interest rate over seven years. The bid was the lowest of three sent to the council including a $168,055 bid from Koenig and Sons and a $181,693 bid from McNeilus Trucking. About $10,000 is set to be added to the city’s capital improvement budget for the next seven years pay for the cost along with funds from the solid waste fee. The truck is expected to arrive in November and the city will begin paying annual charges of nearly $27,000 to Harris starting in 2021.
Blue bags will still be used for garbage pick up and out-of-town residents who purchase blue bags may continue to utilize Le Center’s waste service.
Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8575. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All Rights Reserved.