By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

Stemming from increasing plastic prices and ability to maintain current employees, Richard’s Sanitation asked the City of Brownsville to consider switching to garbage and recycling carts in July 2022. 

Many of Richard’s Sanitation’s cities have made the switch, with more expected to leave bags behind in 2022. Owner Greg Skauge said he’d like all of the residential areas he serves to be on the automated truck route. A 65-gallon and 95-gallon heavy-duty plastic tote on wheels are placed at the end of the driveway, and an arm comes down from the truck and dumps it over, eliminating the need for a second person to pick up the bags. Furthermore, residents would be allowed to use any garbage bag, not just the yellow bags. 

However, council member Tim Klug and Mayor Al Whitesitt expressed two main concerns with the totes. First, the price would be $15 more on the city utility bills ($15 covers the two totes). They also asked how the totes hold up in windy conditions and who is responsible for damaged totes. 

Skauge answered that plastic bag prices will increase to $1.95 in March. The totes are relatively heavy and don’t roll too far. The resident is responsible for damages unless the damage was caused by Richard’s Sanitation. To replace a damaged tote is $60. 

Council members Jake Danielson and John Jangula said they understood that employment was limited and it’s harder to find people to work. Jangula added that if the city wants Richard’s “to provide the service, we have to work with him to provide the service. If he can’t hire people, he can’t provide the service.”

If the city does sign the contract, the switch would likely happen in July and the city would need to sign a contract that would last seven years. The contract pays for the carts to keep the price lower, Skauge explained. There would likely be a 1-3% increase on an annual basis, depending on dumping prices, he added. 

The council did approve a motion that will switch to the totes in July. 

Other news

Maintenance Department Head Sam Boma said the ice rink will be ready soon, as it needed to be cleaned off and re-froze. 

The council approved Merchants Bank in La Crescent as its official depository and The Caledonia Argus as its official newspaper. 

The council increased wages by $1 (city treasurer and maintenance departement head) and 50 cents (part-time maintenance/sewer backup and assistant). They also approved renewing the membership with Minnesota Rural Water Association for $300, and donated $100 to the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. 

Danielson will be the new Local Board of Appeal and Equalization representative for Brownsville. 

The council approved a building permit for Ben Virock, who seeks to put an addition on his home. It was approved as long as Virock met the setback requirements. 

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Brownsville City Council will be Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. at the community center.

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