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Dear Minot

Dear Minot

A message from your government about the most topical and relevant information currently circulating throughout the community. 

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Mar 25

In local government, change is constant

Posted on March 25, 2022 at 9:59 AM by Bryan Obenchain

One of the most challenging aspects of participating in municipal government is adapting to perhaps the most constant issue facing elected officials: Change.

In recent years, the City of Minot has faced a multitude of instances when changes have been necessary regarding City Council decisions or those made by City of Minot staff. As we all know, sometimes information changes, and our municipal government must be flexible enough to respond accordingly.

The ongoing discussion of creating and implementing a curbside recycling program in Minot is a great example. Anyone remember how long curbside recycling has been seriously discussed in our community? The first presentation to City Council took place in early 2016, which led to the creation of an ad hoc committee, which led to automated sanitation trucks as the first step toward recycling, which led us to the point we’re at now.

In the past few years, recycling has been a significant part of Assistant Public Works Director Jason Sorenson’s job at the City of Minot. Sorenson has held public meetings, conducted surveys, appeared countless times before City Council, and done research on the short-term and long-term effects of recycling, how such a program would impact the lifespan of our current landfill (and potentially a new landfill in a different location) and countless other aspects of recycling.

The process has moved forward – albeit slowly – to the point where the City is ready to begin construction of a transfer facility where recyclable material would be collected, then shipped out and sold to processors. In this scenario, which was approved by the City Council, the City would not sort recyclables; rather, the material would simply be collected, loaded onto trucks, and shipped elsewhere for sorting and processing.

But now, there’s a potential major change. At this past Council meeting, we were presented with information on a system that would see the City collect, sort, and bundle recyclables, then sell them. In that system, someone else would come to Minot and pick up the materials, rather than us trucking the material all the way to Minneapolis.

Sorenson will compile a cost analysis of the locally sorted alternative and present that information to Council members in a couple of weeks. Will the Council stay the course or adapt to new information? We’ll see, but the point is that local government must be ready to head in a new direction if it’s best for the overall community, even if that means choosing a different path.

Recycling is just one example of the changing nature of serving as an elected official. There have been many other examples, of course. Every yearly budget brings change. The ongoing flood protection project has seen a host of alterations through the years, including creating an almost entirely new approach to Phase 5 in northeast Minot because of decisions beyond our control. Traffic patterns and volumes change over time, and we have adapted to those needs both as a community and as a City Council. Those changes resulted in our first roundabout, new bike lanes on a portion of 16th Street NW, and an upcoming road diet project on another stretch of 16th Street NW.

Local government officials must be adaptable to the ever-changing needs of the people they represent. Often, the decision to scrap a previous plan or idea and proceed in a new direction isn’t easy to make – nor should it be. But to succeed, we must be flexible, and remember that our role is to always do what’s best for the community, even when that means making small and major changes.

Sincerely, City Hall

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