Council likely to reduce compost facility hours of operation

T-R FILE PHOTO The days and hours of operation at the Marshalltown Compost Facility, located at 900 Woodland St., will likely be reduced to Friday, Saturday and Sunday after the city council discussed the matter during Monday night’s meeting.

After discussing the Center Street viaduct repair project during Monday night’s meeting, Marshalltown Public Works Director Heather Thomas again came before the city council to present options for reducing the hours of operation at the compost facility.

According to Thomas, the facility is currently open seven days a week (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday) and is running on a deficit. She said price adjustments had been made — particularly for larger loads — but she didn’t expect them to get the facility back to a breakeven point financially.

If the current trajectory continues, Thomas worried there would not be enough money to purchase necessary equipment in fiscal year 2025.

“This solution or option that we’re presenting tonight of reducing the days of operation when our compost facility is open does not solve that entire problem, but it’s a step in the right direction in order to reduce the expenses and try to build some revenue,” she said.

She then noted that in the last two years, there have been 48 days when the facility did not bring in enough material to cover the cost of staff wages. There are six part-time compost attendants currently employed, and they make $9 an hour with a quarter raise for each year they stay up to a maximum wage of $10 an hour.

According to Thomas’s information, Wednesday and Thursdays are, on average, the least busy days at the facility, and Saturday is the day the facility takes in the most material. She then laid out a pair of options: keeping the facility open Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for an estimated wage savings of about $8,700 per year or opening Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with a potential savings of about $10,200 annually.

“This is, again, totally an optional thing. It’s not something we have to do, but we wanted to see if there was any support in doing this. In addition to helping us with the gap between revenues and expenses, we have had issues staffing the facility,” Thomas said.

The reductions could also allow Thomas to reduce the number of staffers from six to four, according to Thomas. Mayor Joel Greer asked Thomas about potential tension between individuals who recycle their compost and commercial haulers, wondering which day of the week the commercial haulers might miss the most.

Thomas said commercial haulers can pay for a $500 license that gives them a gate code and allows them to dump whenever they wish to on a 24/7 basis, with a camera system tracking when they enter and leave. Councilor Gary Thompson suggested that commercial haulers be required to obtain a gate key and that the facility should only be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.

Fellow Councilor Jeff Schneider asked if Friday could be added to keep one weekday available, and Thomas noted that street department staff can assist customers with loading material into their vehicle during regular business hours between Monday and Friday.

Councilor Mike Ladehoff said he believed Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays would be the most convenient for homeowners, and fellow Councilor Dex Walker added that he didn’t believe the compost loading services, while convenient, made it worth staying open extra days.

Councilor Gabe Isom agreed with the Friday, Saturday and Sunday plan, and Thompson said he would be fine with it as it didn’t have to be “set in stone” for the time being.

A motion from Schneider to direct staff to bring back a formal resolution to a future meeting that would formally reduce the days of operation to Friday, Saturday and Sunday carried by a unanimous 7-0 tally.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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