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Perham wants Becker's garbage

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Where will Becker County's trash go -- to the landfill, or the incinerator?

A proposal for the county to become a joint powers partner in the proposed expansion of Perham's solid waste incinerator once again became a discussion topic at Tuesday's meeting of the Becker County Board.

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Steve Skoog, Becker County environmental services director, said the county has until June of this year to decide if they want to participate in the project, which would expand the capacity of the incinerator by approximately 20,000 tons a year.

"The door shuts at the end of June," said County Administrator Brian Berg, noting that the county would be responsible for $3.5 million of the bonds issued for the project, which is expected to cost about $10 million.

"One thing (against participating) is I hate joint powers agreements," said Commissioner Harry Salminen, noting that he would like County Attorney Mike Fritz to look over any proposed agreement very closely before he would consider signing it.

Commissioner Gerry Schram also said he didn't like the joint powers aspect of the project, and added, "What if the pollution standards change?"

The county might be obligated to spend thousands of dollars more to upgrade the scrubbers in the incinerator facility.

Skoog pointed out that while this was a valid concern, "it's something you can't anticipate."

Commissioner Larry Knutson said there were several questions about the county's proposed role in the project that needed to be answered first.

"(Like) what's our obligation?" Commissioner Barry Nelson asked.

"Exactly," Knutson responded.

Knutson added, however, that there would be some advantages for the county if they did decide to participate -- such as state grant money being available to help pay for 75 percent of the cost of building a new transfer station.

Also during the environmental services portion of the meeting, the county approved an 18-month extension of its recycling contract with MinnKota Recycling.

The current five-year contract is set to expire at the end of March. The county negotiated an 18-month extension of the contract as it currently stands, but with a three-month "out" clause."

"How has their performance been?" asked Schram.

"There have been no issues there," Skoog said.

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