TRUMAN - A worn paddle wheel could be the deciding factor in whether the Prairieland compost facility stays in the composting business.
Plant director Mark Bauman presented the 2012 budget to the board Monday and one possible expense jumped out - $1 million for a new paddle wheel - along with $120,000 to replace a shuttle conveyor.
"If we're talking about spending $1.1 (million) to stay in compost, this is telling me it may be the time to walk away from it," said Tom Loveall, board member and Faribault County commissioner.
Bauman pointed out the $1 million is just an estimate on the cost of a new paddle wheel. The wheel is 20 years old and "getting tired," Bauman said, adding that it should last another six to eight months.
Part of the expense of a new paddle wheel is that the manufacturer is French. A new wheel would have to be sent to Louisiana and brought up the Mississippi.
"If we switch over to all [refuse-derived] fuel, we eliminate composting and just make fuel," Bauman said.
The board took no action on the budget.
Turning to another matter, Bauman reported that Prairieland and Xcel Energy are still working on a contract for Prairieland to take refuse-derived fuel straight to the Xcel plant in Mankato. Prairieland has received word the contract would last no longer than one year.
"I think by Dec. 31 we'll have a contract," Bauman predicted.
In an effort to improve Prairieland's product, Bauman encourages the public to take clothes to the Epilepsy Foundation and other facilities to help cut down on the "rag monsters" created by stringy plastic like VCR tapes and textiles like clothing. The big wads roll on the belt, making it difficult for the machinery to shred it.
"Our goal is to eliminate that," Bauman said.
Collection days are winding down, but people can still take advantage, said Billeye Rabbe, solid waste coordinator for Faribault and Martin counties,
Appliances and electronics will be collected from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Martin County Highway Department and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Faribault County Highway Department. People from either county can drop off at either site.
Household hazardous waste will be collected Wednesday at the compost facility. The collection on Sept. 28 will be the last one for the year, Rabbe said.