Prairieland, hauler make deal

TRUMAN – The Prairieland board of directors has approved a deal with Waste Management, requiring the garbage hauler to pay Prairieland $100,000 and provide a year of disposal services for the facility at no charge.

Board chairman Elliot Belgard will sign the agreement as soon as it is ratified by Waste Management, said Prairieland director Billeye Rabbe.

The agreement deals with the status of solid waste management services fees collected for Martin and Faribault counties between 2009 and August 2013.

The board released a statement at the meeting:

“In the process of looking at the financial picture of Prairieland Solid Waste Management and the ordinances governing solid waste management service fees collected by Martin and Faribault counties, the Prairieland board began discussions with haulers collecting the fees regarding misunderstandings on what portion of the collected funds was supposed to be remitted to Prairieland.

“The tentative agreement the Prairieland board approved today with Waste Management has been the result of several months of discussion and negotiation between Prairieland and Waste Management regarding appropriate disposition of the fees. As a result, the counties will soon proceed to further clarify the rules governing collection of these fees by changing the county solid waste ordinances for better understanding and ease of calculating and tracking of these fees,” the statement says.

“Prairieland will also continue discussions in order to reach similar agreements with other similarly situated haulers regarding disposition of fees collected during the same time period.”

Prairieland has been working to be financially independent, to decrease its reliance on county funds.

The facility had been supported by the two counties with monthly fund requests that ran into the tens of thousands of dollars. The monthly expenses irritated county leaders. Some of them pointed out there is only so much money budgeted for Prairieland annually.

A couple of years ago, the plant switched from producing compost to making refuse-derived fuel, a more lucrative endeavor. Since she took over as director in July, Rabbe has been looking for other ways to save and generate money. She has not made a fund request from the counties since December.

When asked if that meant Prairieland is now operating in the black, Rabbe replied, “Absolutely, we are.”

In other Prairieland news, Rabbe informed the board Friday about the “smoldering episode.”

The Truman Fire Department was called out late Tuesday night to control smoke that started in some refuse-derived fuel material. A storage building had been filled with RDF earlier in the year; it was being emptied, but still had a little bit left.

One spot lacked sufficient air ventilation. The pile of wet stuff started to smolder, like hay, said Kirk Langvardt, plant supervisor, who was on the scene that night. The material was brought outside, hosed down and secured before it was brought back inside.

Turning to old business, Jeff Jansen, a consultant, said that if the board is considering installing a generator to reduce Prairieland’s electric bill, the facility should first obtain an air permit.

“You can’t take bids for the generator before you get the air permit,” Jansen said.

A generator will throw off air emissions, Rabbe explained. The facility will need an air permit through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Getting the permit also can help the board decide if it wants to go through with getting the generator, Jansen said.

The board approved having Rabbe check on what needs to be done to obtain the air permit.

Revisiting more old business, Rabbe said she has posted an ad for the job of hazardous household waste technician. One person has applied.

Rabbe wants someone in place before training begins April 22-24 in Willmar. The employee is considered part-time seasonal, working about 24 hours per week.

The Household Hazardous Waste program begins May 3 with a cleanup day in Blue Earth.