Can trash fix the budget? - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Can trash fix the budget?

RED WING, Minn. (KTTC-DT)-- After 28-years, one southeastern Minnesota city is considering revamping its waste plant because of steep budget cuts.

The city of Red Wing is strapped for cash. Tuesday evening is the first of two city budget meetings to discuss whether or not the latest city service to be cut will be the garbage incinerator.

The small community needs to cut $1 million from its 2011-2012 budget. Now city officials need to decide if the solid waste facilities garbage incinerator is worth the $500,000 dollars it costs per year to operate.

Over 100 tons of garbage are brought to the plant each day, and close to 85 percent of that is burned, after steel, extension cords and revocable are taken out.  City Council president, Mike Schultz, says the burner generates revenue for the city, but it's not enough to break even.

In Rochester, burning garbage is a huge hit. Just this year the city finished installing its third incarcerator and now heats 27 buildings, by the use of steam. Red Wing one the other hand, only has one steam customer.

Schultz says a change is unavoidable, but thinks he has a solution to the problem.

"The garbage would come here, be processed through our garbage recovery materials facility. From there it will be either shredded or compiled into a nugget, then brought over to Xcel and burned there," said Schultz.

Schultz told us that if the plant would pair up with Xcel Energy, it would be at no extra cost to the residents.  The rest of  the waste plant would still continue all of its other day-to-day operations without interruption. He told us it would truly be a win-win situation, as the city could then continue it's "green" efforts.

Landfills are a cheaper solution to getting rid of waste, but he feels the environmentally damaging effects of them, aren't worth it.

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