Alderman Wayne Turner says Annapolis would save up to 50 percent on its trash bills by scrapping its current program and either hiring a private firm or merging with the county's trash collection system.
"I've been meeting several weeks with big haulers like BFI (Browning-Ferris Industries) and Eastern Waste Industries, and it would be nothing for them to come in and take over our program and do it more efficiently. This is extremely important to the taxpayer," Turner, R-Ward 6, said yesterday after a meeting between the City Council and Public Works officials about what to do if the city landfill closes next June.
"My recommendation to the council will be to go with privatization or to turn it over to the county, depending on the cost. And if thecost is even close we should privatize to keep control," Turner said.
Several of the city's landfill workers, 20 trash collectors and six recyclers who would be affected by privatization are eligible to retire. The rest, Turner said, could be protected by a clause requiring the company that wins the city contract to rehire them.
Turner's suggestions met immediate resistance from Aldermen Ruth Gray, R-Ward 4, and Dean Johnson, I-Ward 2.
"My fear is we might throw the baby out with the bath water. We are charged with keeping up services. We don't base our decisions simply on dollars-and-cents calculations," said Gray, who was concerned about the city backsliding on recycling.
Johnson said he was concerned about keeping up the city's leaf-removal program and recycling program, which has reduced 30 percent of the waste generated in his ward.
The city landfill on Route 450 in Crownsville will soon reach its capacity. Unless the city takes Anne Arundel County to court and reverses a county Zoning Board of Appeals decision blocking the expansion of the facility, the city will beforced to haul its garbage to the county-owned Millersville landfillbeginning next July.
City Attorney Jonathan Hodgson recommended yesterday against filing a lawsuit.
If the Crownsville landfill closes, the city will lose an estimated $2 million per year in revenues from tipping fees, said William Tyler, the city's finance officer. Hauling city garbage to the Millersville landfill would mean building atransfer station and buying two long-bed trucks costing between $750,000 and $800,000 each, Tyler said.
John Patmore, head of the city's Public Works Department, said the city's dump trucks are dilapidated and ill-suited to making the 30-mile round trip to Millersville without a transfer station. Two of the seven dump trucks in the city's fleet will need to be replaced this year at a cost of about $250,000 apiece, he said.
Patmore said the price of paying a private haulers can range between $75 and $150 per household per year.
Tyler estimated that taxpayers now spend $147 per household or business in thecity, plus a $45-per-ton tipping fee that goes back into the landfill fund to pay for its eventual capping. The city's total per-household cost is $188 per year, said Patmore.
County residents, who are served by a county sub-contractor, pay $90 per household per year and are not charged tipping fees.
"We have known for a long time that it's costing city taxpayers too much money and it's a tremendous liability to run its own landfill. The city should either privatize or join the county," said County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis.