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Commissioners hear city recycling plan

Dickinson city commissioners heard a complete budget for a proposed citywide residential recycling program on Monday. If approved, there would be an increase of less than $5 per month on household utility bills. "One of the options is also a $2 t...

Gary Zuroff, Dickinson public works director, and Aaron Praus, solid waste manager, presented a budget for a city-wide recycling program to the city commissioners Monday. The budget would require a roughly $5 per month increase per household. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)
Gary Zuroff, Dickinson public works director, and Aaron Praus, solid waste manager, presented a budget for a city-wide recycling program to the city commissioners Monday. The budget would require a roughly $5 per month increase per household. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson city commissioners heard a complete budget for a proposed citywide residential recycling program on Monday.

If approved, there would be an increase of less than $5 per month on household utility bills.

"One of the options is also a $2 to $3 increase, maybe up to $4, at the landfill," said Public Works Director Gary Zuroff. "The reason we did that is because the disposal part of the recyclables is probably one of the most expensive costs of transferring those dollars to the recycling facility."

Aaron Praus, solid waste manager, presented a proposed budget of $786,478 for capital expenses, including $398,750 for containers, $200,000 for a compaction unit and $70,100 for side-loading trucks.

Praus also proposed an operating expenses budget of $327,975, including adding a full-time chief operator position at $71,445.

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Included in the expenses is transport of the materials to a materials recovery facility.

Possible MRF sites include a facility in Minnesota, and another in Regina, Saskatchewan, Praus said.

The city recycling fund has a balance of $649,480, which will reduce the cost of capital items to slightly more than $5,700.

Praus offered two possibilities for a cost increase.

The current rate is $44 per ton, with a monthly charge of $5.75 for households.

Fees could be raised to $46 per ton, with an increase of $4.75 per month, or $47 per ton, for an increase of $4.25 per month.

The charge is comparable with other North Dakota cities, Praus said. Fargo charges $43 per ton and Bismarck $45 per ton.

To further reduce costs, the city is pursuing a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grant for $100,000. The city will find out the results in June at the earliest.

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Commissioner Sarah Jennings-Trustem supported an increase to $47 per ton, and was joined by Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns.

If approved, the city recycling program would have its kick-off in October, Praus said.

"We plan to have some public informational meetings, which would begin about one month prior to the recycling start-up," he said. "We plan to reach out to the schools, to educate the children on recycling techniques and benefits and utilizing some brochures."

Plans will be considered in the future for recycling services for apartments and businesses, and for expanding recycling services outside of Dickinson.

Oltmanns applauded the department's efforts.

"We know recycling is the right way to go as a community, but our biggest concern was how to implement it without breaking the bank," he said. "Kudos!"

Mayor Scott Decker also complimented the department.

"You guys have done an outstanding job,"he said.

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City commissioners will take action on the issue at their Jan. 22 meeting after considering budget changes and fee amendments.

Other business

City Administrator Shawn Kessel heard the results of a yearly job evaluation completed by the five city commissioners.

He was graded on a scale of one to five, Decker explained, with five meaning "excellent."

In job knowledge, Kessel was rated 4.6; in work quality, 3.4; leadership relationships, 2.9; initiative, 4.1; communication skills, 3.3; and dependability, 3.8.

Kessel was praised for his work ethic, and described as a "very dependable employee" and "a champion for the city of Dickinson," but also received criticism.

"When it comes to the budget process, we're looking for a little more financial leadership," Decker said.

Dickinson Fire Chief Bob Sivak reported that the city had only 49 accidents in 2017 across all city departments.

"That's the lowest total overall injuries we've had for the past five consecutive years," Sivak said. "We finally succeeded in doing what we were striving to do all the time, to lower our incident rates."

He added, "The last time it was below 50 was 2011."

Of those incidents, 19 required medical attention. Thirty incidents did not require medical attention, and 11 were property damage events.

The leading injury was sprains, with 11 incidences reported.

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