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Trails, jail, recycling hashed over at tax hearing

Residents encouraged McLeod County commissioners to rein in costs for its solid waste facility, proposed jail project and trails at the annual tax hearing Tuesday, Dec. 1.
“These things seem to take off on us,” said Jim Bobier of Acoma Township.
Jon Christensen, former county commissioner from the Hutchinson area, agreed.
Christensen cited rising costs to retrofit the solid waste facility to accommodate single-sort recycling from the previous five-sort system.
Christensen estimated that unexpected costs — including a new fence — had added at least $500,000 to the original estimated cost, and could be pushing an additional $1 million at this point.
He said that estimates for the retrofit were off the mark.
“It looks like all the darts are on the floor — we didn’t even hit the board,” said Christensen.
Commissioner Paul Wright said that despite the increased costs, the project has been completed without raising property taxes and that the solid waste fund remains healthy.
“We still have about $4.3 million left in solid waste funds, and I don’t see us having to dip into them any further,” said Wright.
Christensen also noted that the solid waste facility had been operating at a loss, but Wright said figures were deceiving.
Because commodity prices are down, Wright said, “we’re storing, not selling right now, just like we do on the farm when grain prices are down.”
Bobier and Craig Bishop of Hutchinson also had plenty of questions about the proposed jail expansion.
Wright said the jail project was scaled back and a construction manager hired after bids for the original proposal came in about $2 million higher than estimates.
“I think we were all taken aback (by the bids),” said Wright.

For more from the tax hearing, see the Dec. 9 print edition of The Chronicle.