Updates on: Recycling Food Scraps, County Parks, Vacation Home Rentals, Groundwater Protection, Recycling Revenue, Aging, and, Taxes


Recycle Food Scraps

You can be part of the study on Olmsted’s Food Scraps initiative.  21% of the trash that comes to the Waste to Energy plant is food waste.  Food waste can be composted.  By removing the food scraps before they go into the combustion chamber, it will extend the life of chamber and reduce the amount of carbon.  The county will learn from the experiences of those who participate in the pilot.  There is a cost of $25 to participants.  The $25 includes everything one needs to participate:

  • 26 Biodegradable compostable bags
  • Easy to follow instructions
  • Tips on reducing food waste

Kits are available on line.  Go to:  www.olmstedwaste.com or can be purchased in person at the Olmsted County Recycling Center: 2122 Campus Drive SE, Suite 200.

The collected food scraps must be brought to the recycling center.  This pilot will go to the end of the year.

Community Members provide suggestions to improve the Recycling Center

A solid Waste Work Group met several times to improve the useability of the recycling center.  The suggestion will be incorporated in the coming months. The recycling center is a great way to reduce your household expenses.  I use the recycling center and find it very convenient.

County Parks


  • New playground equipment has been installed at Chesterwoods.  Chesterwoods is a great place to escape from the city and enjoy the great outdoors.  Chesterwoods has walking trails, a beach, and now has new playground equipment.  Soon it will also have a bike trail connection.
  • Chesterwoods Amphitheater:  The amphitheater was funded by a grant from the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Commission and was supported by the Friends of Chesterwoods.  It is a great venue in the outdoors within the natural beauty of the park.  The grand opening was set for the middle of June but with the June rains, the opening date will have to be postponed until dryer weather will allow for the completion of project.  I supported these improvements to the park.

Oxbow and Zollman Zoo

  • The Zollman Zoo recently was able to add a bear.  The zoo has been missing a bear since the former bear died (She was over 20 years old.)

Ground Water Protection

I supported Olmsted’s efforts to reduce the nitrates in our groundwater.  This was funded by $5 million from the ARPA funds (America Rescue Plan).  This initiative has received state and national attention.  Olmsted is in the second year of this project.  So far over 119 farmers have applied to participate.  Our Soil and Water team has been working with farmers to improve farming practices to reduce the nitrates that leach into the groundwater.

Zumbro Regional Parks and Trails

I supported the effort for Olmsted to join with other communities to establish a Zumbro River Regional Trail for recreational canoeing, kayaking, and tubing.  Several sites along the trail will be identified for people to “put-in,” recover, and camp.  The county will work with other cities along the Zumbro to create a master plan and to seek funding for the regional trail.  I supported this project, it is a great opportunity to enhance the recreational opportunities in Olmsted and add another amenity to our great quality of life.

650 Vacation Home Rentals

The Legislature has mandated that Olmsted County inspect all vacation home rentals.  They are now defined by law similar to hotels.  Olmsted County was also delegated by the Minnesota Department of Health to license these establishments.  Formerly these establishments were licensed by the city of Rochester.  Currently, there are 650 known vacation home rentals in the county.  The transition from city to county licensure has begun; by 2025, vacation homes outside of the city will be licensed by Olmsted and by 2026 those inside the city will be licensed.

 $130 per Ton

The recycling center is a source of revenue for the Waste to Energy enterprise.  By collecting recyclable material and selling it, Olmsted can reduce the cost of operations and reduce the cost of trash collection.  There is no cost to bring your recyclable material to the recycling center.  Here are some recent prices that Olmsted receives:

  • Old Corrugated Cardboard: $130/ton
  • Mixed paper: $100/ton
  • Office Paper (White): $165/ton
  • Tin/steel cans: $169/ton
  • Clear Glass: $20/ton
  • Colored Glass: $20/ton
  • Plastic Combined 1,2,5: $175/ton
  • Aluminum: $0.925 per pound

Property Tax Deferral for Seniors

Seniors can apply to defer their property taxes.  If seniors have a household income under $90,000, they can apply to defer some of their property tax.  The property tax would be recovered upon the eventual sale of the house.  For more information you can call Olmsted’s Property Records and Licensing Department (507-328-7635) or go to:  https://www.house.mn.gov/hrd/pubs/ss/ssscptdp.pdf

Olmsted Starts a Housing Pilot project

Olmsted has started a housing pilot project.  I supported the purchase of 10 vacant lots for this pilot.  The cost of the lots was about $68,000/lot.  Bids were taken by builders to construct modest pre-designed homes of about 1,100 square feet.  This pilot project is necessary to prove that people will buy modest homes and that builders can make a profit when building smaller homes.  Construction on two homes will begin this summer and will be completed by the end of the year or early 2025.  More homes will be built in 2025.  Olmsted is partnering with the city and First Homes to help bring down the cost of the home and assist low-income families to own a home.  The homes will be transferred to First Homes and will stay in the land trust to preserve the low-income status of the homes.

Task Force on Aging

I have been attending the Legislature’s Task Force on Aging.  The demographics for the aging population are daunting.  The aging population will have a tremendous impact on Olmsted County and Minnesota.  If you would like to see the information that I have documented on Olmsted’s aging population please send an email to Gregory.Wright@olmstedcounty.gov

In the subject line put Aging of Olmsted County and then request the information.

$28.48 Billion

The market value of assessments in Olmsted County is $28.48 Billion.  This is an increase from last year which was $27.28 Billion.  The 2016 value was $14.78 Billion.

$461 Million

New Construction value in Olmsted County is $461 Million.  Last year the value of new construction was $396 Million.  In 2015 the value was $173 Million.

Average Cost of Farmland

Here is the average cost of farmland in Olmsted County in some of the townships.  The current average is first / followed by the average in 2007

  • Eyota:  $7,166 / $3,952
  • Farmington:  $6,388 / $3,524
  • Orion:  $10,958 / $2,804
  • Kalmar:  $12,200 / $3,938

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