FAIRMONT - For a change of pace, Martin County commissioners approved lowering service fees for solid waste collection Tuesday.
Solid waste coordinator Billeye Rabbe reported that since the Prairieland waste facility in Truman has converted to producing refuse-derived fuel instead of compost, expenses at the plant have dropped significantly.
"It was always the idea to re-evaluate the fees when we changed the process," Rabbe said. "The retrofit is almost complete; we no longer have the bonds, and the service fees were meant to pay for the bonds and for operating expenses."
On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved dropping the service fees from the current $115 per year for businesses and $47 per year for households to $69 per year for businesses and $28 per year for households. The change will take effect Jan. 1.
Faribault County commissioners also approved the new fees. The two counties jointly operate Prairieland.
Rabbe added that the service fees may drop even more after the costs are seen once the conversion is complete and operating.
"We will know for sure when we see the costs, but we wanted to leave a little wiggle room just in case," Rabbe said. "Right now these are just estimates we're working with. Once the smoke clears and we're operating, then we'll know for sure."
In other business, commissioners received an update from Sheriff Jeff Markquart on the ARMER radio system. Markquart reported all the towers are operating, and that he has confirmed getting signal coverage in the western, southern and eastern portions of the county, including inside buildings in Trimont, Sherburn, Dunnell, Ceylon, East Chain and Granada. The sheriff added that he still needs to test the signal strength in Northrop and Truman, along with some areas of Fairmont.
The board also approved a bid of $40,684 for new furniture for the dispatch area for the ARMER equipment. The furniture is designed to handle numerous computers needed for dispatchers.
The commissioners also heard a presentation from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, which issued a request of $1,300 for the next budget year. The county currently has the program budgeted at $675 for 2013, the same amount received for 2012. No action was taken on the request.