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 looked at by both subdivisions as a way to encourage businesses recycle more.
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 among representatives of the two councils, 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 coming fiscal year.
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 is expected to 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 did not favor 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 about $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.