Recycling center staff hours to be expanded

Using state recycling dollars administered by Anoka County, the Coon Rapids Recycling Center plans to increase staff hours.

The Coon Rapids recycling center recently expanded to be open five days a week year-round. Here Ron Miqueli loads Styrofoam sheets into the Cobalt SC2000, a screw compactor that shreds Styrofoam and compacts it into three-foot long wedges.
The Coon Rapids recycling center recently expanded to be open five days a week year-round. Here Ron Miqueli loads Styrofoam sheets into the Cobalt SC2000, a screw compactor that shreds Styrofoam and compacts it into three-foot long wedges. Photo by Sue Austreng

The Coon Rapids City Council has approved a 2015 recycling funding agreement with the county in which the city will receive $234,370 this year for recycling programs and operation of the Coon Rapids Recycling Center.

The council also approved expanding the recycling assistant’s position from 20 to 32 hours a week.

According to Colleen Sinclair, city recycling coordinator, the center has seen an increase in activity because of the growth of waste reduction and recycling services the city provides, including five days a week drop-off site, several additional service opportunities during the month and the purchase of a new Styrofoam processing machine.

Most of the increase has come from the small business community and residents from all over Anoka County who are taking advantage of the year-round services at the recycling center, Sinclair told the council.

“With the growth, the facility is also experiencing an increased work load,” she wrote in a report to the council.

As a result, the recycling program lacks an adequate structure and routine to maintain current service levels, an issue that would be addressed by increasing the hours of the recycling assistant from 20 to 32 hours a week, according to Sinclair.

The increase in hours would improve work flow and add structure as well as better processes and procedures for the day-to-day operations of the center, Sinclair wrote.

In addition, it would provide adequate training of site staff, both city and contracted employees, to improve behind the scenes functionality to “run a strong program and build stronger end markets, which, in turn, would provide more opportunities,” she wrote.

While the salary increase that goes with the extra hours of the recycling assistant will be covered by the state dollars, the city will be responsible for the health care benefits for which the assistant will be eligible working 32 hours a week, Sinclair told the council.

That cost is estimated at $6,400 for fiscal year 2016 and will be part of the council’s 2016 budget discussions, she said.

Sinclair is also recommending that the recycling assistant’s position be upgraded to full time next year, with both the extra hours and health coverage to come from the city general fund budget, potentially up to $14,500.

The recommendation will be taken up by the council as it considers the 2016 budget and tax levy.

According to Council Member Jenny Geisler, the recycling center is a “phenomenal program” that does a lot of good at a relatively low cost.

The recycling center recently expanded to be open five days a week year-round. From April through October, the center is open from 2-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed Sundays and Mondays. From November through March, the center is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.

The center is located at the city’s public works facility at 1831 111th Ave. NW.