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Incinerator project fails to gain support from Otter Tail board

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Prospects of a $9.8 million expansion of the Perham Resource Recovery Facility were diminished again by the Otter Tail County Board.

At the Sept. 9 meeting, the county board voted not to support an expansion of the Perham solid waste incinerator.

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"I don't know if there is anything that could change their mind," said a discouraged Kelcey Klemm, Perham city administrator, who attended the Otter Tail County meeting.

Perham city officials have been lobbying for the expansion, which would nearly double the incinerator facility's capacity.

To cash flow the project, Perham has been informally talking with Becker, Hubbard and Cass County officials on the possibility of taking solid waste from those counties. With an expansion, the facility would need about 55,000 tons per year in order to pay for operations and finance the debt.

The county board's vote came less than a day after the Perham City Council voted to apply for an extension of a $2.8 million Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant. The grant was awarded three years ago, but because of the wrangling between county and city officials, the money for the expansion has never been collected.

After numerous extensions, the Resource Recovery Facility was facing another Oct. 1 deadline to accept the money.

"Our position is to proceed with the extension application," said Klemm, even though the Otter Tail County Board is not, at this point, supportive of the project.

The coordinating committee, which also includes representatives from Wadena and Todd Counties, will be meeting Sept. 24, 10 a.m., at Perham City Hall. Klemm anticipates that the matter will continue for discussion at that time.

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