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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Management Board is considering whether the transfer station on state Highway 29 west of Menomonie should be leased or sold.
Morgan Gerk, director of the Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Division told the management board at the November 10 meeting he had received letters of inquiry for both leasing the transfer station and for buying it from the county.
Several private haulers have expressed interest in purchasing the transfer station, and UW-Stout also is working on a proposal to develop the transfer station as a Materials Recovery Facility for recyclables from the Stout campus and also possibly from UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire, Gerk said.
The item was on the agenda for the November 10 meeting for discussion only to determine which direction the management board would like to go: lease the site or sell it, he said.
Gerk said he had also heard the Town of Menomonie and the City of Menomonie may have an interest in leasing the transfer station together but did not know the stage of the discussion.
If the transfer station is leased, then it would stay in governmental use and would remain in Dunn County ownership should the county have an interest in developing another solid waste and recycling program in the future, Gerk said.
The binding referendum question on the November 3 ballot asking voters whether the county should exceed the revenue limit by up to $1 million per year for five years for the Dunn County solid waste and recycling program received good support but not enough support to pass, he noted.
Gary Bjork, county board supervisor from Colfax and chair of the solid waste and recycling management board, asked if UW-Stout would be interested in the transfer station only for recyclables or for solid waste, too.
The process is taking longer than anticipated to come up with a non-binding letter of inquiry, said Zenon Smolarek, a member of the solid waste and recycling management board and the Assistant Director of the Physical Plant at UW-Stout.
Smolarek said he planned to meet with the UW-Stout chancellor the following week to find out how she feels about moving forward with the idea.
The subcommittee believes that if UW-Stout were to use the transfer station, it should be for mandated and non-mandated recyclables but not for compost, Smolarek said.
Do the private vendors tend to want to lease the transfer station or buy it? Bjork asked.
The only communication has been letters forwarded from the county manager and a few telephone calls, but most want to purchase, Gerk said.
Leasing the site may be the best option so that Dunn County continues ownership until “things shake out in the future,” Bjork said.
Steve Rasmussen, former chair of the Dunn County Board and a member of the solid waste and recycling management board, said he agreed and that he would be opposed to selling the transfer station.
Bjork noted he had not yet seen any hard numbers for the purchase of the transfer station.
Soliciting bids for a sale would take time, and there are many variables involved, Gerk said.
The value of the property and the value of the equipment at the transfer station would have to be considered for both selling the property and for leasing it, he said.
If Dunn County leases the transfer station that does not mean the county cannot sell it in the future, Rasmussen noted.
The transfer station would be better off if “there was something going on there” rather than sitting empty because facilities tend to fall apart when they are not being used, Bjork said.
Would the county consider leasing or selling the undeveloped property next to the transfer station?asked Tim Lienau, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the solid waste and recycling management board.
If UW-Stout wanted to do food composting in the future, the 20-acre site would be ideal for that, Gerk said.
The 20-acre parcel is currently being leased as farmland for $3,000 per year, he said.
There are costs associated with putting together an offer to purchase and an offer to lease, said Paul Miller, county manager.
If the board would like to sell the transfer station, then the board should be letting people know that offers to purchase are encouraged and formal offers would receive serious consideration, he said.
If the board does not want to sell the transfer station, then it would be better to say Dunn County is not presently looking at purchase offers. It would save time and effort for those who might want to purchase the property, Miller said.
The solid waste and recycling management board may want to consider a roll call vote to find out who is in favor of entertaining offers to purchase and who is in favor of leasing out the transfer station, Miller said.
An item to determine interest in selling or leasing the transfer station will be on the agenda for the December meeting, Bjork said.
Would an outside appraiser be needed to determine the value of the transfer station property and equipment? Bjork asked.
Dunn County does not have the internal resources to determine the value of the transfer station and equipment, and county officials owe it to Dunn County residents to find someone who does, Miller said.
Gerk said he, too, would recommend finding an appraiser.
At UW-Stout, the owner of a property provides an assessment and Stout provides an assessment and then there is a compromise on the two assessments, Smolarek said.
The December agenda will include items for finding help in appraising the value of the transfer station and to consider whether the board is more interested in selling the property or leasing it, Bjork said.
Now that the municipalities in Dunn County are forming their own Responsible Units for solid waste and recycling, Dunn County has two surplus compactors with receiver boxes and one extra receiver box.
Gerk told the solid waste and recycling management board he had received two sealed bids from the Village of Colfax and the Town of Rock Creek concerning the surplus equipment.
Gerk opened the bids during the November 10 meeting. The Town of Rock Creek bid $16,250 for one of the surplus compactors, and the Village of Colfax bid $5,121 for the surplus receiver box.
The Colfax Responsible Unit will be purchasing the two compactors and receiver boxes already at the Colfax site and the two compactors and receiver boxes already at the Elk Mound site for $30,000 at each site or a total of $60,000, Gerk said.
The surplus compactors are located at the Connorsville site and at the Ridgeland site.
The Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Board voted unanimously to accept the bids. Terry Stamm, a trustee on the Elk Mound Village Board, a member of the Colfax Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, and a member of the Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Management Board, abstained from voting on the motion.
Dunn County now has one surplus compactor and receiver box that will presumably go up for auction next spring, Gerk said.
The solid waste and recycling management board also approved a motion that all sales of equipment to the municipalities in Dunn County are final on January 1 and that the Responsible Units have until February 15 to pay for the equipment.