RED WING -- During Linda Flanders' first day sitting behind Goodhue County Board’s table instead of with the observers, she issued a tie-breaking vote on a topic under discussion for months: the solid waste designation ordinance. Flanders supported the ordinance.

In fact, Flanders seconded the motion to approve the ordinance and send it to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for review and approval. That will take up to 90 days.

Linda Flanders was the tie-breaking vote for Goodhue County's proposed solid waste ordinance. This vote came during Flanders' first board meeting as a county commissioner. Photo by Rachel Fergus/Rivertown Multimedia.
Linda Flanders was the tie-breaking vote for Goodhue County's proposed solid waste ordinance. This vote came during Flanders' first board meeting as a county commissioner. Photo by Rachel Fergus/Rivertown Multimedia.

Commissioners Brad Anderson and Paul Drotos, chair and vice chair, respectively, voted with Flanders. Commissioners Barney Nesseth and Jason Majerus voted in opposition.

This ordinance would require all waste created in Goodhue County to be brought to and processed by Red Wing’s solid waste facility.

This is a necessary step in closing the Bench Street Landfill, which Goodhue County and Red Wing city staff and elected officials have been working to close and enter into the state’s closed landfill program. The goal is that when the Bench Street Landfill leaks, the state will pay for the cleanup, not the county alone.

Local officials trash talking.

Goodhue County Public Works Director Greg Isakson explained the next steps in this ordinance to the board:

“When we get it back from the PCA, we’ll bring it back to the board and then when the board approves a final designation ordinance, once that goes into place, then there’s a 60 day time frame, a notice that we have to give to the haulers, before this thing goes into effect.”

Nesseth’s objection to this proposal is that those who live in rural Goodhue County will see their trash removal costs increase. The rural Zumbrota commissioner explained that garbage will be hauled farther than it currently for some residents, resulting in more expensive fees.

“I’ve been adamantly opposed to this because it affects the residents in my district financially, unfairly and I just wanted to say that one last time.” The commissioner then added, “It is unfair to all the residents inside of Goodhue County, some residents will be unduly charged extra.”

Majerus also has pushed-back on the solid waste ordinance because of costs. During the Tuesday meeting, the commissioner pointed to the fines that haulers could receive if they do not haul to Red Wing all the trash that they pick up.

Currently, the fines are set at a maximum of $10,000 per day. The actual amount would be decided by a county judge.

“But if I was a hauler,” Majerus began, “I could be looking at this and saying, you know, it’s a free county, too. Why are you requiring me to haul the garbage from Zumbrota, a separate township, into Red Wing, another city?”