Baltimore County, City to tax solid waste pickup City estimates surcharge would bring it $4.5 million a year.

April 26, 1991|By Patrick Gilbert and Larry Carson | Patrick Gilbert and Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

Baltimore and Baltimore County have agreed that each will pursue a collection surcharge for non-residential solid waste pickup as a way to generate new revenue.

The City Council is expected to act on the city surcharge as early as Monday night. But Baltimore County is expected to delay any such move for at least three months.

Preliminary revenue estimates given by city Budget Director Edward J. Gallagher indicate the waste generator surcharge, as it is being called, would bring in about $4.5 million annually.

The city surcharge would be applied to businesses that have their waste collected by commercial haulers. It would be based on a percentage of removal cost.

It was not immediately clear if city lawmakers had reached a decision on the percentage to use. But, in a memorandum prepared by Gallagher for the City Council this week, he used a 10 percent waste generator surcharge to come up with the $4.5 million revenue estimate.

In addition to producing much needed revenue in the short run, the surcharges are being looked at by both subdivisions as a way to encourage businesses to do more recycling.

The less solid waste a business generated, the less surcharge it would have to pay. And the less solid waste generated, the less cost to the subdivision for disposing of it.

The inter-governmental agreement came late yesterday after a series of meetings this week between representatives of the city and county councils and with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and County Executive Roger B. Hayden.

Hayden said he will submit a resolution to the County Council at its next meeting, May 5, in which both his administration and the council commit to "vigorously pursue" a recycling incentive surcharge on solid waste generators in the county for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 1992.

Hayden said he hadn't enough time to look into the surcharge to do anything for this fiscal year.

The City Council already has before it legislation that proposed to add a $10-a ton surcharge on top of tipping fees commercial haulers pay to dispose of solid waste at incinerators and landfills in the city.

That bill will be amended Monday night to apply the surcharge instead to the commercial operations that generate the waste.

City Councilman Martin E. "Mike" Curran, D-3rd, chair of the Policy and Planning Committee which held hearings on the bill, said he met this week with representatives of the restaurant and hotel industries who indicated they opposed the waste generator surcharge.

At a committee hearing last week, commercial haulers said they were not in favor of the tipping fee surcharge.

County Council member Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd, said the county would have worked hard to oppose the tipping fee surcharge because it would have cost the county in the neighborhood of $600,000 yearly.

The county dumps most of its residential solid waste at the BRESCO and Pulaski incinerators in the city. Under the tipping fee surcharge bill, the county would have been exempt from paying the surcharge at the incinerators. But when the solid waste is burned, the ash is trucked to the city's Quarantine Road Landfill for disposal and the county would have had to pay the surcharge there.

Schmoke said yesterday he could support the waste generator surcharge but expressed concern that the city would be alone in imposing the charge for a year.

The City Council was looking at some kind of solid waste surcharge as a revenue source to replace the controversial beverage container tax.

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