SYKESVILLE — When 70 businesses generate as much trash as almost 900 households, those businesses should pay to have their garbage picked up, say townofficials here who still are wrestling with budget restrictions.
Last year, the county doubled its landfill tipping fees from $7.50 to$15 per ton, throwing municipal budgets out of whack.
Although Sykesville charged a rental fee to downtown and other area businesses with Dumpsters, officials feared those charges would not be enough to cover the cost of tipping fees, maintenance and purchase of new Dumpsters in fiscal 1992.
Town officials have met twice in the last several months with the Sykesville Business Association to work out an equitable system of payment for all Dumpster users in the business district.
Both sides were concerned that businesses that don't have their own Dumpsters may put trash in someone else's, thus avoiding the monthly rental fee.
At Monday night's Town Councilmeeting, a resolution was passed that set the rates for all downtownbusinesses based on the amount of trash they put in a Dumpster.
"We're asking for a slight increase in the fees to cover the cost of maintenance and administrative costs of billing," said Town Manager James L. Schumacher, who presented a plan to raise the fees from $10 per cubic yard per month to $12.
Schumacher also asked for fees of $7 and $4.50 for medium and light users, respectively, but Council President Kenneth W. Clark suggested lowering those charges to $6 and $3.
"In light of the economy, the small businesses will be hurting the most by an increase," Clark explained in announcing his motion.
He left the basic fee at $12 to cover maintenance and the estimated purchase price of $5,000 for 16 new Dumpsters to replace worn ones.
The fees will be charged to all businesses, which will be assigned a specific Dumpster close to their site. Dumpsters also will be marked for usage by those businesses only.
Five councilmen voted for the resolution, with Councilman Eugene E. Johnson abstaining.
"I have a business there (downtown), and I couldn't vote for something that's going to affect me," Johnson said.
But former Councilman Charles B. Mullins, who owns several business properties along Main Street,argued against the increase.
"You say you need only $12,000 for tipping fees, but the Dumpsters you already have are generating $15,360 in fees," he said.
"We're already paying an assessment tax rate and property tax rate, so we're doubly taxed as a business," Mullins added.
"You have to realize we do pay quite a bit in property taxes, and we should get something for that."
Town Attorney Dennis J. Hoover reminded Mullins that he was
getting a service most municipalities around the state don't offer their businesses.
"Baltimore City has no business trash pickup," Hoover said. "Businesses have to hire a private hauler.
"The reason many municipalities do that is because it's a headache -- because the businesses generate so much trash."
He noted that under the new system, some businesses will be paying less than they were charged in the past if they are light users.
Previously, those who voluntarily rented a Dumpster simply paidaccording to the size of the Dumpster and not by the amount of trashthey generated.
Decreases in some payments should be offset by income from businesses who had not been paying a rental fee before, Schumacher noted.