Kelly will work up some possibilities on how it might work for council to consider on March 26
A motion had been made and seconded and the Crookston City Council and Mayor Wayne Melbye at their Ways & Means Committee meeting this week appeared to be seconds away from voting on a request to have City crews pick up recyclables at residents’ curbsides bi-weekly instead of the current once-a-month practice. But then a couple council members wondered what the rush was, and wondered why Public Works Director Pat Kelly couldn’t be given a couple weeks before the council committee’s next meeting on March 26 to come up with a possible workable plan to be considered.
With that change in strategy, the motion was rescinded, and Kelly and City Administrator Shannon Stassen are expected to spend the time in the interim figuring out if picking up recyclables twice a month instead of once a month is feasible.
Kelly’s comments at this week’s meeting seemed to indicate he’s not a big fan of making the change, but as he’s been known to note from time to time when various Public Works-related issues are brought to the table, if the council wants to make a change, it’s their prerogative and he’ll do what they direct him to do.
Not an overwhelming outcry
Ward 6 Council Member Tom Vedbraaten asked that the frequency of the City’s curbside recycling be brought to the council for discussion, but in introducing the matter Stassen noted that while there “have been a couple questions” over the years about the City’s recycling program and, specifically, how often materials are picked up, “There hasn’t been a strong outcry” to make any changes to the current program.
Kelly said picking up recyclables every two weeks instead of once a month would simply add time to his crew’s recycling routes, but he added that it could be done. Kelly has said when the City’s garbage service has been discussed previously that the existence of the Polk County Transfer Station in Crookston significantly reduces the number of Crookston residents who buy yellow City garbage bags and participate in weekly City curbside garbage pickup. As a result of so many residents bringing their garbage to the Transfer Station, free of charge, Kelly has said his sanitation crews generally can complete a garbage route in the morning and, by lunchtime, they’re available to do other Public Works-related duties in the afternoon.
At Large Council Member Bob Quanrud wondered if the garbage route schedule could be condensed so that curbside garbage is collected throughout the entire town over 2 1/2 days, which would free the crews up to do other assigned duties, as well as picking up recyclables every two weeks.
Kelly estimates that 25 percent of Crookston residents at the most participate in the blue bin City curbside recycling pick-up. He said the City’s garbage and recycling program probably break even budget-wise, and he added that it’s his belief that the program should continue to at least break even in the future. That could leave the possibility for a small fee increase Crookston residents pay on their water/utility bill each month, Kelly added.
Ward 1 Council Member Jake Fee said the City should encourage its residents to participate in the City’s recycling program as much as possible. If residents knew that City personnel would be coming by twice a month to pick up recyclables, Vedbraaten added, maybe more people would participate.
Ward 2 Council Member Steve Erickson, the first to speak up against rushing a vote on the matter this week, acknowledged that his blue bins typically are overflowing before his monthly curbside pickup day, too. But he said he wants to see some numbers crunched before he votes on it.
“I’m all for this because I know how backed up our bins get, but let’s at least get some numbers on paper first,” Erickson said.
In addition to discussing the possibilities, council members and the mayor are hoping that some Crookston residents between now and March 26 convey to their council member or Melbye their feelings on the City’s recycling program, and what it might take for them to participate in it.