SYKESVILLE — Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. calls it a "vexing problem."
Business property owner and former Councilman Charles B. Mullins terms it "a nightmare."
"It" is the town's problem of equitably raising enough revenue from the business community for trash collection and Dumpster rental fees to cover the county's landfill tipping fees of $15 per ton.
Andwhy do the businesses have to pay extra?
Because the roughly 60 businesses in the downtown district are generating as much trash as the town's 900 or more residential units, Helt said.
Also, the town has its own Sanitation Department that picks up trash twice weekly and hauls it to a county landfill, saving the businesses the work of contracting with and paying a private company for the same service.
In turn, the town provides the businesses with Dumpsters, which have to be bought and maintained. To pay for upkeep and collection, the town charges businesses a Dumpster rental fee of $10 per cubic yard a month.
"This is incredibly cheap over the cost of a private hauler," Town Manager James L. Schumacher said.
He noted that most private companies charge an average of $60 per month.
While the town needs the revenue from the businesses, officials know that some businesses are barely hanging on financially and can't afford a large increase, if any, in their Dumpster rental fees.
Businesses that pay the city to use Dumpsters are not the problem, however.
"In the downtown area, people are using Dumpsters that are reserved by a particularbusiness," Schumacher said. "And certain businesses are not renting Dumpsters at all and are putting out boxes and cans filled with trash."
At Monday night's workshop meeting between the Sykesville Business Association and town officials, the SBA agreed to keep the current system of the monthly $10-per-cubic-yard fee, but to add lesser charges for partial use of a Dumpster and to make all businesses pay on a quarterly basis.
"Everybody seems to be happy with that," said Joy Baker, SBA president. "We're going to have to try it and see how it works."
Under the new system, all businesses downtown would be required to pay a Dumpster rental fee if they want their trash picked up by the town.
"Under the new policy, you would have to use a Dumpster, and you'd be assigned a Dumpster to share with another business if you are a light user," Schumacher said.
For instance, a business such as Helt's law practice that generates only one or two bags of trash a week would be charged 25 percent of the monthly fee, or $7.50 on a quarterly basis, he explained.
Slightly heavier users could be charged half the regular fee.
Because of the new fiscal budget year beginning July 1, Schumacher expects the Town Council to take action on the policy at its July 8 meeting.