Spring Park approves residential recycling agreement

By Lorrie Ham

A brief meeting of the Spring Park City Council on Jan. 17 resulted in the approval of a four-year residential recycling grant agreement with Hennepin County. In his report, City Administrator Dan Tolsma explained that Hennepin County receives annual funding from the State of Minnesota for recycling collection programs. The county then proportionally distributes these funds to cities that meet the terms of the recycling grant agreement. Spring Park’s most recent residential recycling grant agreement with the county expired at the end of 2016.

In 1995, the Legislature established a 50 percent recycling goal for the metropolitan counties by 2030. A year ago, that number was changed to a 75 percent recycling and composting goal. The original agreement between the city and county was a contract which called for the city to operate a curbside residential recycling program and other waste reduction and recycling activities, while reporting those totals to the county annually.

Under the agreement, the city is required to provide recycling of certain materials along with education and outreach to city residents in an effort to increase the amount of recyclables collected in an effort to reach county goals. In exchange, the county agrees to provide an annual grant payment to reduce the city’s cost of providing the program.

In a letter to the council, the county explained that a new funding policy will continue to fund city recycling programs, but will gradually shift more funds to support organics recycling, which is not currently offered by Spring Park’s recycling contractor, Republic Services. Separate payments will be offered for each type of recycling, with curbside recycling grant amounts decreasing over the four year plan and organics payments increasing during the same time frame.

The projected curbside recycling grant for Spring Park is $2,760 in 2017 and declines each year to a projected grant of $1,725 in 2020. The council unanimously approved the agreement.

Mayor Jerry Rockvam also asked the council for support in naming former Councilmember Shirley Bren to represent the city on the Gillespie Center Board. Rockvam noted that Bren already has an interest in the center and is knowledgeable about how things work there. Bren was at the meeting to accept the council’s appointment. The mayor thanked Bren for her service and asked her for regular reports back to the council.

In another matter, the council passed a resolution of support for continued Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for Western Communities Action Network (WeCAN), a human service organization which serves the 12 western communities of Hennepin County, including Spring Park. In a letter to the council, Executive Director Christie Larson explained that WeCAN provides emergency rent/mortgage/utility assistance, family support programs, job counseling, Meals on Wheels, and referrals for other services needed by the agency’s low-income clients. WeCAN offers space for clients to meet with county agencies and Adult Basic Education through the Westonka School District. Their Mobile Market delivers food to those who have barriers to accessing a traditional food shelf and provides kid-friendly food bags to families with children during school breaks.