Recycling center might go on auction blockGoodhue County officials are considering trying to sell the county's recycling program, Recycling Center and landfill to save money.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County officials are considering trying to sell the county's recycling program, Recycling Center and landfill to save money.
The idea stems from information revealed last year in an audit by trash hauler Waste Management. The outside analysis found that Goodhue County could save more than $250,000 by processing material collected from its eight countywide recycling drop boxes at a third-party site instead of the county's recycling center and by making changes at the recycling drop off boxes.
County officials want to seek bids from companies interested in taking over recycling to see what kind of savings may exist.
"If you don't ask, you don't find out anything," Commissioner Jim Bryant said Tuesday.
Public works staff have drafted two different proposal requests, one for taking over the county's recycling program, the other to buy the county's Red Wing Recycling Center and landfill on Bench Street.
Taking over the program means providing personnel and equipment to collect and transport recyclable materials and then processing and marketing them for sale.
Commissioners learned more about the proposals at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting. They have not officially voted to send out the proposal requests, though they expressed interest in seeing what kind of interest the proposals generate.
"In this day and age when budgets are tight when someone says they can save you $250,000, you should probably find out if that's true," Public Works Director Greg Isakson said.
Isakson suggested seeing what kind of interest there is in the recycling program before seeking bids for the Recycling Center and landfill.
Commissioners and county officials know selling the county's landfill will be no easy task.
Annual monitoring and maintenance at the site costs the county $50,000. The landfill has also been a source of contention between the state and county officials, who want it admitted into the state's closed landfill program.
State officials have refused, saying admitting the landfill would be illegal because a small portion is still active and used by the city of Red Wing.
"That landfill has been a real pain," Isakson said.
He said bundling the Recycling Center and landfill as a package deal could help sell the landfill.
"We're hoping there's enough of a carrot with the rest of the Recycling Center," Isakson said. "This is an opportunity to get rid of that white elephant."
Officials suspect the recycling program - funded in 2009 by $73,610 in state grants and $168,656 in county tax dollars - will produce several interested parties, though a switch would not affect the public, Iskason said.
Companies submitting bids would be required to continue operating satellite recycling drop-off sites at eight county locations and have a 24-hour drop-off center in Red Wing.
"It's going to be basically the same operation - as far as the public's concerned - as what we have today," Isakson said.
Interested companies also must agree to bring recyclables to a permitted material recovery facility like the one in Red Wing. MRFs receive, separate and prepare recyclable materials for marketing.
The county would keep operating the household hazardous waste program if another company handles recycling operations.