For a second time, the County Council has defied a request from the state's chief environmental officer to adopt a trash recycling plan.
Robert Perciasepe, secretary of the Department of the Environment,made an appeal at the council's meeting Tuesday that the council take action on a recycling proposal the council has been reviewing sinceNov. 5. The state mandated that all counties had to approve and submit the plans to the state by Jan. 1.
"At your last meeting you considered recycling and asked me specifically for an extension, and I sent you a letter which asked you notto do that," said Perciasepe.
"You've looked at every debate possible from what I've read in the newspaper, so you're not making the rash decision you might be worried about. My being here is to tell youpersonally this is the time to move on," said Perciasepe.
"Why doI want to give you a line in the sand on a plan? Because I'm concerned about the line in the sand down the road in 1994 when the program must be implemented," he said.
But that plea didn't jar the council into approving the recycling proposal for Harford drafted by CountyExecutive Eileen M. Rehrmann.
"The clock is running out, the bellis ringing, but I can tell you we're not going to do anything tonight," said Jeffrey D. Wilson, council president. "And I don't think we're going to see a $60 tipping fee initially."
Citing the time (10:40 p.m.), Wilson declared the council would not take action on the plan until at least Jan. 14. -- its next session.
By law, council meetings must end by 11 p.m. unless the majority of council members vote to suspend the rules of order. A motion to suspend the rules to allow discussion and a possible vote on the recycling issue failed, 5-2.
The holdup over the recycling plan is due to continuing debate over the proposed $60-per-ton tipping fee trash haulers would pay for garbage dumped at the county's landfill or taken to the waste-to-energy incineration plant.
Council members have objected to the fee because trash haulers say customer bills could rise to an average of $16monthly as a result of the new charge. Customers pay an average of $8 a month now.
Harford is one of three Maryland counties that do not have tipping fees now.
Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, said Perciasepe was asked to attend the meeting by the county executive. Said Klimovitz, "At this point, we'll do anything to encourage some kind of decision."
Perciasepe's comments drew sharp criticism from some council members.
"I don't think it's necessary to rubber-stamp a document to get it to the state," said Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B.
Councilman Robert S. Wagner, R-District E, told Perciasepe that he was "glad we have dragged our feet."
"You struck a nerve when you mentioned giving a boost to citizens who are already recycling," said Wagner. "You're also boosting our hands very deeply into our pocketbooks. The markets are not good, and it would be terrible if we recycled, then had to build buildings to holdthe recyclable material."
After the meeting, Wagner said the tipping fee, which would be used to pay for constructing a building whererecyclables would be sorted, should be separated from the recycling plan. The council could then debate and adopt a fee separately, he said.