Harford sent a draft of its trash recycling plan to the state for review last week but it ran into some last-minute opposition over a proposed $60-per-ton waste disposal fee.
The County Council, in a review of the proposal last week, said it backed curbside pickup of bluebags filled with separated newspaper, glass, cans and other garbage from homes and businesses, as called for in the plan.
But during a three-hour council hearing Tuesday night on the proposal, the $60-per-ton fee to support a new solid waste fund and encourage recycling was challenged by haulers and some representatives of homeowner associations.
The county is under a Jan. 1 deadline to present an adopted recycling plan to the Maryland Department of the Environment as part of efforts to cut the stream of garbage into landfills by 20 percent.
County Executive Eileen Rehrmann Tuesday sent the state a copy of the recycling concept plan and had hoped the council would consider formal amendments to the solid waste plan last week.
Instead, the council decided to discuss the plan and amendments at its Dec. 10 meeting.
Harford is one of only three of Maryland's24 counties that don't charge refuse collectors a "tipping" fee to dump trash.
The council unanimously approved the concept of imposing a tipping fee Oct 8. But the fee has come under attack since Nov. 5, when the administration proposed the $60-per-ton figure.
County officials promote the $60-a-ton-fee as a way to convince residents that recycling will help them reduce the one ton of garbage the averagehome generates each year.
But trash haulers say the fee would double or triple the $8 per month an average homeowner pays now.
David Brzowsky of the 600-unit Harford Square Community Association, saidpaying on a $60-per-ton basis would mean his neighborhood's annual trash collection bill would jump from $20,000 to $56,000.
For that money, he said, "We can go buy a farm and build our own landfill."
Representatives of two community association management firms said their clients cannot raise their fees or change their bylaws in time to pay the $60-per-ton fee when it would take effect when the recycling plan would take effect, June 1.
The timing of the new fee could force neighborhood groups to drop communal trash service, leaving home owners to pay higher rates for individual service, said William L. Harrison. His company, Trenton Property Services, is manager for 35 homeowner associations in Harford.
But county administrator Larry Klimovitz said during a break in the hearing that community associations and refuse collectors are going to have to "sit down and decide how to change how they do business" if the fee is approved by the state.
Any discounts homeowners associations now get should still existnext year if haulers continue to compete for business, Klimovitz said.
Bob Dillon, speaking for the Joppa-Magnolia Civic Association, said, "If anything comes of this -- and I hope it does -- it's that the person who throws away the most pays the most and the person who throws away the least pays the least."
Havre de Grace town Councilman Joseph Kochenderfer said that creating a special solid waste fund should allow the county to lower property taxes, which help support operation of Harford's Scarboro landfill and waste-to-energy plant in Aberdeen.
The county estimates that the recycling program will cost between $2.2 million and $2.9 million annually. The solid waste feewould generate between $5.4 million and $8 million each year.
ButKlimovitz said the solid waste fund must also support landfill operations and the growing expense of environmental safeguards.
Objections were also raised to one of the plan's "fail-safe" options to assure that the county meets the state's 20-percent recycling mandate by 1994.
One of those options construction of a private regional collection and processing center that could receive recyclable materials from outside the county or state.
The facility would replace a temporary public center scheduled to open in March.
Klimovitz said the county does not support a regional operation.
The County Council will discuss the trash recycling plan Dec. 10 in theCounty Council chambers, Level A of the Courthouse in Bel Air. The meeting begins at 8 p.m.