Executive, Council Clash While Recycling Issue Waits

July 07, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

Harford's legislative and executive branches continued their power struggle last week, with the County Council refusing to allow the executive to present a trash recycling plan.

County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann wanted her director of administration to brief the councilon her voluntary curbside recycling proposal Tuesday night and follow with a public hearing July 9 so legislation could be enacted soon.

But Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, a Republican, said the legislative agenda was too full and delayed the executive's presentation until this Tuesday.

Nonetheless, County Administrator Larry Klimovitz prepared to read a statement on recycling when the council concluded its business and invited comments from citizens.

"I have anarea of concern and

an area of hope," he began, before Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B interrupted and said he would haveonly one minute to speak.

"A plan as important as this, to our citizens and Harford County's future, should not be delayed," Klimovitzsaid. "The significant public policy issue of recycling should be dealt with in an expeditious and responsible manner."

His three-paragraph statement touched off a 20-minute lecture from various council members on relations between the two branches of government.

"I'm tired of the administration playing games," Parrott said. "On something like this, we agree to a time and a place of presentation." She complained that the council was not invited on June 27 to the waste-to-energy plan, where Rehrmann unveiled her recycling plan to the press.The proposal was delivered to the council the same day.

"We are not the state of Mary land and we are not the 'Do-it-Now Council.' We want to plod along and do what's best for the county," Parrott said, likening Rehrmann's style of governing to the executive's mentor, Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

She concluded with, "I would ask that Mr. Klimovitz leave the chair."

Klimovitz stayed in the speaker's seat but he never did address his area of hope.

The council has feuded with Rehrmann almost since her taking office in January. They have fought over executive appointments, her nominations for the law firm to be hired as Harford's bond counsel, her plan for a budget surplus to protect the county's credit rating, and their rejection of her proposal to increase real estate recordation taxes to pay for a $10-million recycling processing plant.

Under Rehrmann's new recycling plan, curbside collection of separated recyclable materials

would be available countywide to residential areas. Residents would be askedto buy blue plastic bags and place recyclables into them. The blue bags would be picked up by their regular trash hauler and sorted at collection sites.

Rehrmann's plan includes a $2-$3 monthly recyclingfee per household which haulers would add to their customers' bills.In turn, haulers would pay the county a fee to drop off their loads at collection sites. The fee would have to be approved by the council.

The curbside pickup of recyclables would help the county catch up to the other jurisdictions in the Baltimore region, which all have begun trash recycling programs to meet a state mandate to reduce their waste streams by 15 percent by 1994.

Klimovitz said that the council needs to act on the proposal as soon as possible to meet Rehrmann's plan to begin recycling by Jan. 20.

But Wilson said that with only one meeting left in July and only two scheduled in August, the council will not have time to give the recycling proposal proper consideration until September.

"We know how much work we have to get done," Wilson said after the meeting. "What we have here is a bald attempt by the county executive to run the County Council. She has, in nine months made consistent attempts to impose on council prerogative."

He said that if Rehrmann wants to move the recycling proposal through the council soon, she would have to pull other executive-proposed bills from its agenda.

Between now and September, the council will be busy with zoning appeals, developing legislation on adequate public facilities, and administration bills on Chesapeake Bay critical areas protection and upgrading the county's 911 system.

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