Recycle or pay up.
That's the message Baltimore will send companies that generate solid waste, if a new refuse tax is passed Monday night by the City Council.
And it's a message that Baltimore County hopes to send by the middle of the summer.
An attempt to promote recycling and generate an estimated $4.5 million in new revenue for the city, City Council Bill No. 1259 would add an estimated 10 percent surcharge to trash hauling fees.
"If you want to reduce your bill, recycle some of your refuse," said Mary Pat Clarke, the council president. "This gives financial justification for recycling; it's no longer just a notion."
The fee would be collected by refuse haulers from the company generating the trash and then be turned over to the city.
Said Douglas E. Brown, a revenue estimator for the city: "You can bet we'll be working darn hard to develop the audit capabilities" to ensure that trash haulers turn over the surcharges to the city.
On Monday, the day the City Council is to vote on the bill, Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden will introduce a joint resolution with the County Council supporting the tax and preparing county companies for similar action in the coming fiscal year.
"It is the intention of the county executive and County Council to pursue vigorously legislation creating a type of recycling incentive surcharge in Baltimore County as soon as possible," said Mr. Hayden in the resolution.
The similar approach to promoting recycling while raising revenue -- part of an effort to meet a state mandate ordering jurisdictions to recycle 20 percent of all solid waste by 1992 -- came out of a joint city-county task force.
"Trash is regional, and the bottom line is [the city and county] both want to promote recycling," said County Councilman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, D-3rd. "The state has mandated us to recycle, but they haven't given us the revenue to do it. We'll deal with the surcharge issue in the next budget."