The Mitchell City Council’s recent decision to approve a 24% rate increase at the city landfill made its way back on the agenda for further discussion during Monday’s meeting.

The new landfill fee of $45 per ton increases the rate for private garbage haulers to dump their waste at the city landfill by 24%. Public Works Director Kyle Croce emphasized the previous landfill fee, which was set at $36 per ton, hasn’t been adjusted for the past 13 years, noting it played a major role in the decision. The City Council approved the landfill fee change at the Nov. 18 regular meeting, and no action was taken on Monday following the discussion.

Council member Marty Barington opened the discussion relaying some concerns and questions he received from a private garbage collection company.

“We want to provide an opportunity to discuss the rate increase and give a little more details,” Barington said. “After finding out it hadn’t been changed since 2007, there is maybe a little ‘shame on us’ with the fact we haven't been making a gradual increase over the years and have to catch up now.”

Croce said the increase was calculated at a 1.5% increase over the past 13 years, equating to roughly $45 per ton. Aside from figuring the 1.5% increase from 2007 until now, Croce provided further rationale, pointing to other landfill fees in Huron and Sioux Falls.

“With Huron at $78 per ton, and Sioux Falls looking to raise their rates from $38 per ton, we feel we’re right in the ballpark now,” Croce said. “I think it came at a good price, and I think a lot have benefited by not having an increase for 13 years.”

Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson also alluded to a rise in labor and operation costs, along with building a new landfill cell that is slated to begin within a year. According to Croce, the new cell is estimated to cost around $3.5 million

Jeff Miedema, owner of Miedema Sanitation, expressed his opposition to the rate increase, emphasizing the magnitude of the impact it will have on his and Petrik Sanitation’s customers. Miedema said the landfill increase would tack on an additional $135,000 in comparison to what he previously paid the past 13 years.

“I just feel 24% is extreme, because every business in the five county area is getting the increase on their bill now, so it affects a lot of people,” Miedema said, noting Culver’s bill will increase $150 per month. “Some of the smaller businesses will be going up $25, and some businesses are struggling making it the way it is and this increase adds more strain.”

Everson asked roughly how many residential accounts equate to one ton of garbage.

According to Miedema’s calculations, the average home consists of about 49 pounds with a 90-gallon garbage container, equating to roughly 40 homes to reach one ton of garbage.

After the city's recent decision to eliminate alley collection, Miedema said he doesn’t find it fair to adjust a price he quoted in the past month for the roughly 280 new alley customers he took on since the alley shakeup.

Lastly, Miedema requested for an advanced notification instead of the 45-day window he experienced.

“It would be nice to have more notice with an increase as extreme as 24%, so then we could figure out a pricing structure and give our own customers more notice of the change,” Miedema said.

Council member Steve Rice joined the discussion, providing a calculation that factored in a consumer price index and the future value of money, which came out to $45 per ton at 1.8% increase annually over 13 years.

“To me the $45 per ton is not out of line from a cost standpoint, but my question is whether we can calculate what our labor cost increase associated with our fees, so we can look at that number every year,” Rice asked.

A common question Rice was asked over the past few weeks was whether the City Council could automatically adjust the landfill rates on an annual basis. However, Rice said it’s not possible due to the nature of council members changing hands with future elections.

Two-way vs. one-way street debate

As residents have been adjusting to temporary two-way streets for portions of streets in the city during the Sanborn Boulevard construction, the council is mulling over whether to keep them in place until the project reaches completion. However, some residents want to bring the one-way streets back as soon as possible.

Everson pointed out the streets included in the discussion were those that were changed in the summer of 2019, which consisted of West Second, Third, and Fourth avenues (between Rowley and Minnesota streets). According to Everson, switching the streets he mentioned from a one-way to two-way streets was a decision aimed at improving the traffic flow and access during reconstruction of the Sanborn Phase II roadway project.

“We do have another phase of Sanborn construction that will take place this summer from Seventh to Fifteenth avenues, and I’d like to see them remain two-way until the end of that construction project,” Everson said.

Melinda Moreno, a resident who lives at 715 W. Fourth Ave, spoke out against the proposal to allow the two-way streets to remain for the duration of the Sanborn Boulevard road construction.

“With the snow on the sides and the parking, there is not enough room to pass,” Moreno said. “It’s just not safe. Those streets are really narrow in the winter. I thought they were going to go back to one-way.”

Everson said the vote occurred prior to the major construction taking place on Sanborn Boulevard.

“I understand it was voted on, and nobody is saying it will never go back to one-way streets,” Everson said. “If you make them one-way, you take away a lot of ability to move traffic through.”

A public vote took place several years ago that decided to keep the one-way streets in place upon the completion of road construction. According to Rice, 63% of the voters made up the amount of residents in favor of keeping the respective one-way streets.

Susan Tjarks said she’s received several comments and suggestions from community members, including former City Council member Mel Olson, supporting to switch one-way streets to two-way.

In response to the concern of the streets being too narrow to keep the two-way streets in place, Croce said nearly all the city streets range anywhere from 30 to 40 feet wide.

“The other argument that 36 feet to 40 feet isn’t wide enough for two-way streets doesn’t add up for me, because all the streets in the city are right around the same width,” Croce said, noting West Fifth Avenue -- a two-way street -- is a 36 foot wide.

Considering the agenda item solely included the benefits of two-way streets, Rice expressed his concern regarding that decision.

“I find it disconcerting the city only is sending out information about the benefits of two-way streets and not for one-way streets,” Rice said. “When we had this discussion years ago, we heard both sides. You can find as much information that you want about the benefits of one-way and two-way streets.”

Following the discussion, no action was taken by the council. However, the council will bring the discussion back at the upcoming Jan. 21 meeting, which could lead to the decision as to whether the two-way streets will remain throughout the last phase of Sanborn construction.

Consent agenda

The following items will be considered as part of the consent agenda:

  • Approved the minutes of the Dec. 16 council meeting.

  • Approved the minutes of the Dec. 9 Planning Commission meeting.

  • Approved the following raffle permits: Heart and Sole with the drawing to be held on Feb. 1, 2020 and June 19, 2020; Mitchell Area Safehouse with the drawing to be held on Mar. 27, 2020; Palace City Pedalers Tour de Corn Inc. with the drawing to be held on Aug. 15, 2020.

  • Approved The Daily Republic as the city of Mitchell’s official newspaper.

  • Approved change order No. 1 to Top Grade Concrete for “Schedule B” of sidewalk project No. 2019-4.

  • Approved change order No. 1 to Top Grade Concrete for “Schedule C” of sidewalk project No. 2019-4.

  • Approved change order No. 1 to Top Grade Concrete for “Schedule D” of sidewalk project No. 2019-4.

  • Approved change order No. 1 to Top Grade Concrete for “Schedule E” of sidewalk project No. 2019-4.

  • Set date for the following hearing: Jan. 21, 2020, for the application to transfer RB-2842 retail (on-off sale) malt beverage license from I-90 Fuel Services Inc. doing business as I-90 Travel Plaza No. 101, S. Burr St. Suite A, to Holiday Station store No. 490, 1821 S. Burr St.

  • Approved appointing Katie Olson to the Community Services Board (representing MVP) to fill an unexpired term from Jan. 2020 to July 2021.

  • Approved Jan. 6 pay estimates.

  • Approved bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires.

Other business:

  • Recited the Pledge of Allegiance, recite invocation from First United Methodist, roll call, heard citizens’ input.

  • Approved consent agenda.

  • Met as Board of Adjustment.

  • Set date for the following hearing: Jan. 21, Darren, Devon and Dustin Long’s application for a height variance of 28 feet vs. 22 feet and a side-yard on a corner variance of 2 feet vs. 20 feet for construction of an addition to the existing building located at 520 S. Rowley legally described as lots 7, 8, 9, block 9, Van Epps First Addition, city of Mitchell. The property is zoned an R3 Medium Density Residential District; Alexis Jennings’ application for a conditional use permit to operate a family residential child care business at the property located at 1309 E. Fifth Ave., legally described as lot 4, block 1, Bridle Acres Addition, city of Mitchell. The property is zoned R2 Single Family Residential District.

  • Held a hearing on the following: Tamara and Mac Miiller’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a family residential child care center at the property located at 207 Christine St., legally described as lot 2, block 10, the Woods First Addition, city of Mitchell. The property is zoned in an R4 High Density Residential District.

  • Reconvened as City Council.

  • Entered discussion on landfill fee rate changes set by Resolution No. 2019-85.

  • Entered discussion on two-way traffic vs. one-way traffic. The following streets will be a focal point of the discussion: Second Avenue, Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue.

  • Received an update from Friends of Firesteel fundraising efforts.

  • Approved the official 2020 depositories for the city of Mitchell.

  • Approved awarding bid for Mitchell Airport snow removal.

  • Approved Tax Increment Finance (TIF) handbook and materials resolution that will include changes to help streamline the process of TIF’s for the city of Mitchell.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2020-02, a plat of lot 60 of Maui Farms Second Addition, a subdivision of the southeast quarter of section 31, township 104 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, city Of Mitchell.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2020-03, a plat of lot 8-E, block 7 of Westwood First Addition, a subdivision of the southwest quarter of section 16, township 103 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, city Of Mitchell.

  • Approved Agreement No. A2020-1, a proposal for consulting services for design and permitting the Dry Run Creek Phase II with Infrastructure Design Group Project No. 2020-33.

  • Considered entering into an executive session citing legal and economic development.