Ceylon: Don’t flush wipes

CEYLON — The city of Ceylon hopes residents will heed a warning to stop flushing wet wipes down their toilets.

City employees reported to the City Council this week that the wipes clog up pumps in the wastewater system.

The council approved a letter asking city residents to throw away wet wipes, disinfecting wipes, towelettes and paper towels — even if it says “flushable” on the package.

The products cause wastewater pumps to malfunction, risking environmental consequences such as backups in homes, streets and local streams. The products do not break down and most are as much as 30 percent plastic. The city clerk reported that Ceylon has already spent $2,000 repairing pumps. Replacing pumps or installing a shredder would cost more than $70,000.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has reported that these products sit in the sewer, collect debris and form a big ball. The MPCA is joining with other states to try to ban the terms “flushable,” “septic safe” or “sewer safe” on wipes sold in Minnesota. Greta Gauthier, legislative director of MPCA, has been quoted as saying, “Smaller towns in particular have been hit with enormous costs associated with flushed wipes.”

In other city business, the council this week heard from Steven and Connie Saggau, who asked that the city reduce their property tax by designating two of their parcels in Lake Belt Township as “rural” rather than “urban.”

The deadline for 2017 taxes was August, so their property taxes cannot be changed for this year. The Saggaus said they understood and requested that the property be redesignated for 2018 taxes.

Changing designations from urban to rural is done through an annual action by the city. The parcel numbers for the land in question were shared with the city clerk and will be added to other parcels of land for a public hearing. City Attorney Jim Wilson and City Clerk Mary Muller said the hearing usually occurs in June. Wilson said there can be no improvement to the property, and no development on the property. The Saggaus said they understand.

In other action, the council:

o Appointed members to different assignments. They include: acting mayor, John Gibeau; Cemetery Association, Tom Plumhoff; Fire Association, Lon Oelke; Street Department, Amanda Diers; Utility Department, Chad Dunlop and John Gibeau; Park Department, John Gibeau; ordinance officers, Chad Dunlop and Tom Plumhoff; City Clerk and Treasurer, Mary Muller.

o Denied a proposal to raise the council’s salary by $5 per meeting. The salary remains $45 per meeting for 2018.

o Changed the date of the March meeting to Thursday, March 15, to accommodate an audit being done that week.

o Discussed a request to help fund playground equipment at the city park. The council decided to take the request under consideration.