Prairieland seeks fresh funding

TRUMAN – Its utility bill is down, but Prairieland in Truman wants another $24,000 from Faribault and Martin counties, to the dismay of commissioners.

Mark Bauman, plant director, on Friday requested the funding: $9,829 from Faribault County and $14,144 from Martin County. The two counties own and operate the waste-processing facility.

“Our [Prairieland] budget for the year is $112,000,” noted Greg Young, Faribault County commissioner. “With this request, we’ll be at $60,000 [already].”

Bauman said Prairieland was not built with the idea there would be no subsidy, but added that it has reduced its fees. There used to be a $60 charge per household; now it is in the $20 range.

“We’d like to get to a spot where we’re self-sufficient and don’t need the service fee,” he said.

Bauman also pointed out the latest monthly utility charge is $13,903.

“At times last year it was $24,000 to $26,000 a month,” he said.

The decline is a result of converting from a compost site to making refuse-derived fuel, by not having to operate the compost equipment.

Bauman said the best way to make more money is to bring in more product.

“It’s going to take more garbage flow in here,” he said.

The opportunity he seeks may be coming next month.

Bauman said the metro-processing law was passed 20-some years ago. It states that all waste in the seven-county metro area has to be processed, either by waste energy, compost or another ecologically friendly method. However, the law was never enforced.

Now state officials are going through the process of putting that law into action. Enforcement could start as early as April, Bauman said.

John Roper, Faribault County commissioner, wants Prairieland to take advantage of the law and “work on getting Mankato to get that waste coming this way.”

Bauman said that right now LJP Enterprises is hauling fuel from Prairieland to Mankato, but coming down with empty trucks. Currently, the refuse is being taken to Newport, where it is shredded, then returned. Newport is south of St. Paul.

“[Truman is] a shorter drive than to Newport,” Bauman said.