Cleanup day in Greenfield may need tune up

At its June 4 meeting, Greenfield City Council members discussed the recent citywide cleanup day. 

The annual event, at which residents of Greenfield can drop off surplus items such as old tire, furniture, appliances and other such items, has been operating for a number of years. In some years, enough revenue has been raised to cover, or exceed, the costs associated including dumpsters and vendors who take and dispose of the refuse for fees. In other years, like 2013, revenues have not covered the expenses resulting in a cost to the city. City Administrator Kathryne McMullum prepared a recap of the event’s revenue-versus-costs going back to 2007. In 2013, the estimate is a loss of $551. The overall bottom line for all seven years represents a loss of $2,636.

McCullum observed that in years the city actually made money, the event was well attended and the collections were large resulting in more fees. The following years were much lighter in turnout and consistently resulted in a loss.

Councilor Tom Cook suggested that the city consider holding the cleanup day bi-annually, something that was initially met with laughter but late became a point of discussion.

Councilor Chuck Alcon stated that better promotion might be a way to increase participation, and mailing out reminders with information prior to the cleanup day might be a way to do this.

One of things McCullum said skews the numbers is that throughout the year the public works staff collects a number of items, especially old tires, that have been tossed into ditches along the city’s roadways. These items are disposed of on clean up day with the cost of disposal included in the cost of the day. Staff was advised that it may be helpful in the future to keep the cost of city disposal separately as it something the city would have to pay for at some point regardless if the cleanup day occurred or not. McCullum said that staff had collected significantly more abandoned tires than usual this year.

Councilor Mike Erickson proposed investigating the possibility of partnering with a neighboring community to see if that would result in a better turnout and cut costs.

Mayor Brad Johnson said that he felt bad weather may have contributed to the low turnout this year, and that he’d like to try and improve the turnout, and revenues, by giving the event another shot in 2014. He said he would bring the idea forward to neighboring cities to see if a combined effort would be feasible.

Erickson raised a concern that when the event came out at a loss, it was one that was paid from the general fund, and funded by the tax levy. He suggested that the event might serve a small percentage of residents while all are essentially responsible for paying for it.

Johnson said that he considered it a recycling effort foremost and that the city has worked hard for several decades to promote recycling. In the early eighties, residents banded together to thwart plans to put a county dump within the city, adopting recycling as a means to that end.

There was no action taken on this matter.

 

FEES

McCullum explained that Mayor Johnson wanted council to review the cities fees schedule, something which was last done in 2011. Johnson explained that changes may play a part in 2014 budget talks which will be underway soon.

McCullum, for this discussion, prepared a fee schedule for water and sewer charges that included those of Minnesota cities with roughly the same population. The biggest discrepancy between Greenfield and those used for the sake of comparison were the WAC (water availability charge) and SAC (sewer availability charge) fees, immediately noted by the council and discussed. These are one-time hookup charges, and varied from city to city. Greenfield currently charges $2,000 to connect to city sewer, and $1,650 for a water connection. Maple Lake charges $7,500 and $2,500 respectfully for these services, whereas neighboring Hanover’s fee for the same are $5,212 and $2,241.

There was consensus among council to continue talks regarding these fees.

The next regular meeting of the Greenfield City Council is Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. at 6930 Town Hall Dr.

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