County withdraws from 14 year-old solid waste program

by HANNAH BROADBENT
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In 1993 the Solid Waste Management (SWM) Coordinating Board was formed, otherwise know as SWM Club. It was a creation of joint power between the seven metro counties.

“It was born out of a desire to address problems and challenges currently in SWM and household hazardous waste properties,” as stated at the Carver County Commissioners meeting last Tuesday, June 6.

That day the board decided to withdrawal from the club. As of right now they will be the second county to do so. Scott County was the first back in 1998.

The withdrawal comes because 2017 is a transition year for the coordinating board according to Greg Boe, the Environmental Services Manager in Carver County. The Club wants to focus more on transportation and transportation infrastructure in the metro.

The coordinating board will have to decide if it wants to hire its own staff or have each county member contribute staff time.

“They need to decide what SWM will look like in the future,” Boe said.

The club is set to know what their plan is in September, unfortunately the date for withdrawal is June 30.

Commissioner Jim Ische pointed out that by leaving the board, the county could save up to $70,000. This is a normal fee for membership now, that number could possibly go up in September.

“We have to have a leap of faith, but otherwise we risk putting the county in the position of spending money we didn’t budget for,” Boe said.

Ische said he believes the club will cease to exist and that it has ran it’s course. Lynch said the board is confident about the withdrawal and has no concerns about leaving.

“The need for the club is limited right now,” said the Chair of Commissioners and District 4 representative Tim Lynch.

Boe said that a lot of the reasons, or problems, the club was there have been solved through the years. He said most duties the club once fulfilled are now done outside of the organization.

One of the clubs largest duties was allocating money to the counties, in order to receive state money you had to be a member. Now, with changes through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) the money goes directly to the counties.

Boe and Lynch use Scott County as an example of success after leaving the club.

Boe worked at Scott County before coming to Carver. Boe said Scott County did well outside of the Club. He said there was initial fear of being isolated from their neighboring counties but the county made an effort to reach out to statewide organizations.

“They were as good or even better because they had communication statewide,” Boe said.

Lynch and Boe are confident in the relationships they have with other counties now. Lynch said they already work well and often with neighbors and this just might enhance that further.

Boe said that one of the biggest benefits is Carver County’s ability to voice it’s own opinions and ideas, but they will still utilize their relationships with peers.

“The benefit of SWM was allowing the counties to speak as one voice,” Boe said. “Carver County can have just a strong of voice that is aligned with the position Carver County holds.”

Boe said now the county will be able to make decisions more efficiently. Lynch said as government, it is always better to work locally as well.

“The best form of government is one closer to the people,” Lynch said.

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