The City of Peterson is changing hands with garbage service. At the September 9 meeting, the council gave unanimous approval for a new provider. The decision was based on cost and service options. Jason Nielson, representative for Waste Management, and Jeff Holmquist, Harter’s Quick Clean Up Service Sales Manager, were both on hand to discuss any questions the council had regarding the bids.
The city’s current contract with Waste Management expires December 31. The new five-year contract offered included weekly Friday pickup for both garbage and recycling. The sizes of upright totes are customer choice and all related costs are included. “We’ve provided services to the city for several years,” said Nielson. “It’s good pricing and safe and reliable service.” Nielson noted the increased cost is largely driven by recycling processing. “We welcome the opportunity to service the city.”
Harters offered refuse bins of 35, 65, or 95 gallon size and upright recycling bins of 65 or 95 gallon — all customer choice in size. Garbage cleanup would happen weekly, on Tuesdays, with recycling every other week. Three one-year extension options are also included with the contract. “We found the average person recycles twice as much as previously. We can even do a second bin,” stated Holmquist, speaking to the pickup and container size.
Both parties agreed they would be open to additional discussion once the council had an opportunity to get into the “nuts and bolts” of the contracts. Mayor Tim Hallum questioned whether there were any protections in the contract regarding fuel costs, should they skyrocket. “I’m just checking… that’s what caught us in the past,” he added.
“I like the idea of the container that’s closed instead of the tote. I see things blowing around town. Even though it’s every other week, it’s a larger size,” added Councilor Gail Boyum. “It looked like Waste Management was cheaper, but Harter’s is cheaper for 65 and 95 gallons.”
“It’s been a long time, but it comes down to dollars and cents, too,” added Hallum. The city will work with Waste Management for a removal schedule of current bins and totes.
In other news, the city is closer to adopting the 2021 budget and the final levy. During review of the budget, Boyum and City Clerk Chris Grindland were able to add $1,800 in funds from field rental; $1,800 to reduce the amount that was designated for the 406 Equipment Fund.
“We recommend we increase the budget by just 2%,” said Boyum, noting the preliminary increase of 6%. The increase equates to a $3,100 increase. “We thought it was a good idea to reduce because we have really good equipment. With the virus right now, we thought people would appreciate no major increase to their taxes. It should be helpful to people.” The topic will be revisited at the October meeting and the final property tax levy set soon.
The council also approved a project at the post office. The city owns the building and rents to the USPS. Asbestos floor tile is falling apart and chipping off. A certified contractor has been hired to remove and dispose of the toxic flooring between September 21-25. The cost is $5,000 and it was noted that it will be funded through the year’s rental payments.
“Looking at full contaminants, they’ll be moving everything out of the building,” said Grindland. The building will begin clearing September 18. “It will be closed during that time, but can get your mail in Rushford,” added Grindland.
In old business, the council approved a culvert policy designating culverts as the responsibility of the city. However, in the instance that a culvert needs repair or replacing, the property owner is responsible for restoring any concrete or asphalt surface running over the culvert. “It’s pretty simple and straightforward,” noted Councilor Dave Colbenson.
Ordinance violations were also reviewed. Grindland reminded the council and attendees that a vehicle on a property has to meet three criteria: it must be licensed and registered, operable, and parked on a non-landscaped area.
307 Prospect Street, fined $100, has removed the two vehicles in the citations. 135 North Church Street, one $50 citation, has assured the council that gravel will be placed under the vehicle by the end of the weekend. 226 Church Street has been making significant progress, according to the council; only a school bus remains. The property owner believed it to be grandfathered in with the property, but Hallum insisted this is not the case and that it needs to meet the ordinance criteria.
127 & 129 Fillmore Street are still in non-compliance. Resident Pete Erickson indicated it is being worked on. 137 Centennial Street, one vehicle citation, has seen no change.
The council will continue working to ensure the properties reach compliance. “We got some progress out of them. We’ll keep moving forward here,” said Hallum.
Public Works Director Rick Lee provided an update of estimates for water tank cleaning and inspection. KLM Engineering will conduct the services for a cost of $2,000. Areas needing repair will be noted during inspection. The last inspection was done in 2016. Work is expected to take one day. “Nobody’s going to be without water at all,” added Lee.
The city has put support behind AcenTek’s Rural Peterson Telephone Exchange Fiber to the Home program. Aimed at providing fiber optic service to rural Peterson areas, the program will greatly improve internet availability and service. There is no cost to the city. “We’re one step closer to bringing it to town,” added Grindland.
The city is also supporting Rushford Peterson Valley Chamber of Commerce’s downtown decorating contest. Friends of Peterson and city staff will decorate a few street lights in town. Any prize winnings for the city would go towards the museum. According to the Chamber press release, “All business, organizations, and individuals are welcome to take part in this contest in the downtowns of Rushford and Peterson.” Peterson residents wanting to participate are encouraged to contact the city.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, October 14, at 6 p.m., at city hall.