By Julie Ann Madden
Westfield residents will be surveyed to find out how often they want their garbage and recycling picked up.
Blue 96-gallon recycling containers were delivered to Westfield residents Feb. 25. The containers were purchased by Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency officials with a grant which provides all towns in the county, which use the Le Mars landfill, with curb-side recycling.
Residents will need to separate recyclable items from their garbage, said Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency Manager Mark Kunkel. They will not need to bag their recyclables but they will need to follow simple recycling instructions (found in the box on Page 7).
City officials will provide information through the municipal water bills to residents as well as Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency personnel will deliver the containers to each residence with a blue flier containing the recycling instructions listed above.
“Blue containers are strictly for recycling,” said Kunkel, noting residents already have their own containers for garbage.
Both Kunkel and Van’s Sanitation co-owner Terry Baartman, whose crew picks up both Westfield’s garbage and recycling, strongly suggested Westfield city officials go door-to-door explaining this new recycling program.
The more residents recycle, the less cost to the city for solid waste collection, they said.
“Recycling does cheapen your garbage rates…because your other municipal waste drops in tonnage,” said Kunkel.
“It saves us money if residents recycle,” said Mayor Bill Hummel at the Feb. 12 council meeting which Kunkel and Baartman attended.
Councilors learned there were a few options for managing separate garbage and recycling pickups.
For instance, the towns of Kingsley, Oyens and Remsen have “every other week” pickup where garbage pickup is one week and recycling the next. The town of Merrill still has weekly garbage pickups and a separate recycling pickup twice a month while Brunsville has a separate recycling pickup once a month.
“Obviously, there are different recycling pickup venues out there,” said Baartman, suggesting Westfield have garbage one week, recycling the next as that would be the same number of pickups and hopefully a couple of the other towns’ schedules would mesh with Westfield’s so the city’s costs wouldn’t increase.
If Westfield continues weekly garbage pickup and chooses a separate pickup for recycling, the additional cost is $1.50 per resident per time, said Baartman. Therefore, two recycling pickups a month would be $3 per resident.
If the council chooses to do the “garbage pickup one week, recycling pickup the next,” the commercial garbage pickup may be changed from Tuesdays to Wednesdays, he added.
One resident was concerned he’d have too much garbage if it was only picked up every other week, however, Baartman responded, he has a family of six and uses two “Recyclable 90” and one “Garbage 90” containers.
“You’re doing the same amount of garbage but you just separate out the recyclables,” said Baartman, noting residents can purchase the green “Garbage 90” size containers which have lids or the town could purchase these for residents.
The city may also have a few extra blue recycling containers, said Kunkel.
“It makes it look very uniform for your city,” he explained. “The Garbage 90s are all lined up down the street or in the alley. It looks nice, garbage doesn’t blow around, and the smell is contained.”
It was noted the green Garbage 90 containers can be leased from Van’s Sanitation for $2 per month, which gives residents the advantage that if the container breaks, Van’s Sanitation repairs and/or replaces it at no cost to the residents.
“Realistically, your garbage is only going to entail virtually food scraps and diapers,” said Baartman.
“If you recycle 100 percent of everything you did, you won’t fill your garbage up,” said Kunkel.
For commercial customers like Hummer’s Roadhouse, which has a large amount of recycling, it was decided to have the owners continue to use the large blue recycling dumpster next to the post office.
Councilors were concerned about some residents abusing the recycling bins by putting garbage in it like has happened to the blue recycling dumpster set by the post office.
Kunkel explained there is an ordinance city officials will have that contains a contamination fee clause. If there is enough garbage placed in the recycling containers, the city can be charged this fee. In turn, city officials with assistance from Van’s Sanitation workers will investigate repeated problems to determine who is placing garbage in the recycling bins. Then the person assigned to that blue container would be assessed the contamination fee.
Since we no longer are affiliated with the Cherokee landfill, Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency has its own comprehensive plan and must meet the requirement of having at least 25 percent of solid waste recycled, said Kunkel. “If we fall below 25 percent, we have to go back to unit-based pricing, and I don’t want to do that. That means residents only get one container a week for garbage and I really don’t want to get down there to that. That’s not a nice way to do it.”
The mayor will survey the residents’ pickup needs and city officials will make a decision on a pickup schedule since the council’s next meeting isn’t until Tuesday, March 5.
The council also needs to pass ordinances, which include only Van’s Sanitation will be the garbage/recycling collector for the next 10 years. The recycling containers will become the city’s property in five years.
In other business, the Council:
• Unanimously approved setting a public hearing on the proposed 2013-2014 budget for 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 5 at the Westfield City Hall.
In addition, the council unanimously approved the September 2012 treasurer’s report.
The actual 2013-2014 budget proposal was not available at the meeting as monthly treasurer’s reports still needed to be completed for the past four months.
Former City Clerk Barbette Grimm is assisting City Clerk Andrea Westergard with learning the budget process.
“We have to get through the treasurer’s reports before we can go on,” said Grimm, who will continue to work with Westergard.
• Unanimously approved renewing the liquor license of Hummer’s Roadhouse. The vote was three ayes with Councilor Jim Ulatowski, owner of Hummer’s Roadhouse, abstaining and Councilor Don Dion absent.
• Unanimously approved appointing Don Dion as mayor pro tem and to serve as the city’s liaison on the Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency Board and Sioux Valley Regional Railroad Authority Board. In addition, Marcia Dewey was appointed to serve as liaison on the Plymouth County Emergency Management Board.
The consensus was to keep City Attorney Scott Bixenman for now but to seek a new attorney.
• Heard a water system update from City Water/Waste Water Operator Terry Jolin and unanimously approved water system equipment purchases, including a pump, two rebuilding kits and a meter used to perform water quality tests.
• Had a Plymouth County Historical Museum request for donations. The consensus was not to make a donation after a motion to deny the request died for lack of a second.
• Learned that new basketball hoops had been purchased for the city’s basketball court in the Westfield City Park and court lighting would be fixed soon.
In addition, Westergard reported on possible grants to purchase park equipment.