A dispute between Bel Air and Harford officials over a proposed $60-per-ton trash disposal fee threatens town participation in the county's recycling plan.
The controversy concerns a 1969 agreement underwhich Bel Air turned over its own 9-acre landfill so the county could build its detention center.
In return, Harford guaranteed Bel Air the right to haul trash free of charge for 99 years to the county's Tollgate dump, which closed in 1987. The deal was updated to allow free dumping at the Scarboro landfill.
Bel Air insists its government and residents should be exempt from the $60 disposal fee the county wants to support the $2 million-a-year recycling program and a new solid waste fund.
County officials say the agreement is meaningless because it was struck before anybody conceived of the need to recycle, recap landfills or other environmental orders passed down from the state and federal governments.
County administrator Larry Klimovitz said last week that the Harford and Bel Air governments are trying to resolve the conflict without an expensive battle in court.
That's where the issue seemed headed Tuesday after a County Council recycling hearing.
"There's no reason we don't consider that a valid agreement," Bel Air town manager William N. McFaul said.
Klimovitz replied that he is confidentthat a court would be declared "null and void" if the county has to sue Bel Air.
Bel Air council chairman Susan McComas said Friday that the
agreement was upheld in Harford Circuit Court 1982 when thecounty sought to impose a "tipping" fee on town dump trucks.
Klimovitz said that the state order for local governments to reduce theirsolid waste stream 20 percent by 1994 supports the need for the tipping fee.
The towns Aberdeen and Havre de Grace also must comply with the state recycling order.