Cost is everything when it comes to local government. As demand for city services increases, it’s easy to let things go or delay action. Officials shouldn’t let that be the case for expansion of the city’s compost operations.
Officials have said there is a need for more compost space, hence the investigation into sharing space with the City of Sartell. The price tag is the reason this partnership didn’t move forward. It would have cost the city about $5,000 to rent land in Sartell.
Yes, that’s a big number, but don’t let that stunt the pursuit of finding a scenario that works. Clearly, this service is important to residents. Residents of St. Joseph Township purchase about 40 permits per year while city residents purchase about 600, said Judy Weyrens, St. Joseph city administrator. If the proposal to share space had moved forward, city staff would spend about three hours every two weeks to maintain compost space in Sartell, she said.
Discussion of a regional compost site has been pondered for years among area cities but has not left discussion mode. St. Joseph can abandon that mode of talking by continuing to work to collaborate with another city or property owner to keep up with composting demands in the city.
Aside from the demand to see the city’s site expand, there is an environmental benefit to composting as a whole. Using compost can reduce the need for water, fertilizers and pesticides. It also serves as a marketable commodity and is a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Compost also has the ability to help regenerate poor soils and absorb odors.
At the last city council meeting, officials agreed to revisit the topic as staff researched more options. Well, the search for more space should remain on the table until a workable alternative is found. Even if it takes some time, city officials should not give up on the pursuit of joint compost operations. As the city continues to grow, planning ahead will prove to be a benefit.
The city’s compost site is open 2-8 p.m. Wednesdays, 4-8 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. The compost site is open only to city residents and St. Joseph Township residents.
Permits can be purchased at St. Joseph City Hall. Additional information can be found on the city’s website: www.cityofstjoseph.com. The city’s compost site is west of town on Stearns CR 75. The entrance is just east of Millstream Park.