The Pine River City Council agreed to remove recycling bins from city property, and discussed its appointment of a sewer board member during its Tuesday, March 12, meeting.
Both decisions were based on ongoing discussions.
Recycling bins stored east of the Cass County Fairgrounds have had a history of abuse, which the city and Cass County have been trying to curb, especially over the last year. Last May, Public Works Director Mike Hansen approached the council to discuss the mess surrounding and originating from the recycling bins, which the county provided near the fairgrounds with the city's permission.
At that time, many recycled materials had been blowing out of the recycling bins all over the fairgrounds and nearby properties. In addition to creating more work for public works while mowing the fairgrounds and surrounding areas, it was making a mess that spread wherever the wind would take it. There was also the issue of unauthorized dumping of garbage and generally non-recyclable materials.
Everything from mattresses to television sets have been found at or in the recycling bins. Hansen said the bins have a significant amount of trash in them as opposed to recyclables.
The county attempted to remedy the wind-blown trash issue by installing bins with a different style of door that wouldn't allow recyclables to escape the bins due to wind. Since then, unauthorized trash dumping and distribution of materials by the wind has continued.
Hansen recommended the council eliminate the service outright. The council approved the recommendation. After April 15, there will no longer be recycling bins on city property. The city will send a notice to that effect, along with a list of alternative recycling locations.
The council also discussed the future of a city representative on the Pine River Area Sanitary District board because of a vote in favor of a water rate increase against the council's preference. Hansen said the city's goal was to keep local rates competitive with other municipalities by not increasing them.
PRASD discussed increasing fees for apartments and commercial properties. Though it was the city's opinion that rates should not increase without a specific project or need in mind, the PRASD board approved a flat rate billing process for commercial properties for up to 4,000 gallons and $5.30 per 1,000 gallons used over 4,000 gallons. PRASD previously used a complicated calculation based on annual usage. The apartment rate was increased from $33.60 per unit per month to $42 per unit per month.
Hansen said the second city representative seconded the motion to increase the rate, and voted in favor of the increase. He suggested this may be grounds for revoking his appointment because it was not the city council's wishes.
The city's power to revoke appointments is uncertain. Attorney Ted Lundrigan said the revocation should be within the power of the city, since the city had a hand in appointing him. Hansen said the revocation has to go through Cass County, who has the power to approve the city's appointments. PRASD, however, is of the opinion that the city does not have such authority.
The city has discussed its options with the county and is in discussions with the city representative./p>
In other business March 12, the council:
• Approved a request by police Chief Paul Sand to replace the department's Dodge Durango with another Durango for an amount not to exceed $45,000. The department has the funds for the purchase. The old Durango may transfer to the city's first responders.
• Accepted resignation of police officer Connor Collette and approved posting for his replacement.
• Approved a municipal consent agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a bridge replacement project over the Pine River. The construction could begin in 2020. (See related story - MnDOT presents Barclay bridge plan).
• Agreed to look into an agreement for salt and sand application with Chickamaw Beach at a rate equal to that offered by the county.
• Learned the fire department will hold a 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, township meeting to discuss a new fire contract formula that could eliminate fluctuation in rates and appease townships.