HAMPSTEAD — A maverick proposal by a group of mayors could result in lower trashremoval costs for their residents -- and a kick in the pants for thecounty commissioners.
Hoping to get one hauler to offer a volume discount, municipal officials will meet this week to prepare a request for bids to be published by April 1.
Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown devised the plan to get lowerprices and pressure the commissioners to accept the mayors' first choice: a countywide plan for trash and recycling.
"I think at the very least, if we do this, the commissioners' phones are going to ringoff the hook with people in unincorporated areas saying 'Why don't we deserve the same?' " Brown said.
Municipalities generally pay $50 to $90 per household, while unincorporated households pay $120 to $150.
Mayors and council members attending a meeting at the Hampstead Town Hall Thursday night were wary of the proposal, but said they will keep an open mind and decide after the bids come in.
Some, such as Manchester Councilman Geoffrey Black and Taneytown councilmen Henry Heine and Robert Flickinger, worried the plan might backfire.
They said a larger hauler could make a low-ball offer to get the contract.
"Then, within one year, you're going to put everyone else out of business," Heine said of smaller haulers, leaving towns at the mercy of the larger hauler to raise prices.
Black said he preferred the municipal leaders' original proposal to have the county government create several trash zones that include municipalities and rural areas, and have haulers bid separately for each route.
"If the county would have done it, praise be," Brown said. "But they're not going to do it."
The county commissioners are considering such a plan with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said she expects the county to implement such a plan by July 1993. Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy, however, said that deadlineis for deciding whether to pursue such a plan.
Brown and Taneytown Councilman James McCarron said the county must stop thinking of trash and recycling as separate issues.
As of July 1, the county willrequire all trash haulers to pick up recyclables from their customers.
"I say more power to the towns," Lippy said of Brown's proposal. "In the meantime, we're going to plod along with our plan, which isa plan to have a plan."
Lippy said the difference between the towns and the county is that each has a different immediate concern.
"We have a state mandate to recycle 15 percent of our solid waste by January 1994," Lippy said. "We have no state mandate for trash collection."
Most of the towns, on the other hand, are ending contracts with haulers this year and are in the midst of getting bids for new contracts that would start July 1.
Westminster and Hampstead contract with the large Eastern Waste Industries. Union Bridge contracts with Haden Trash Removal. New Windsor uses General Sanitation in Frederick.
Manchester's contract with Hughes Trash Removal ends in June 1993, but Brown is suggesting any bid request include plans for adding Manchester at that time.
Taneytown has no municipal waste collection, but is planning to start one this year and will be soliciting bids.
Sykesville Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. said his town employs its own trash collectors, but would consider joining the other mayors if the price was right.
"We want to be a part of the discussion," he said.
While Mount Airy Mayor Gerald Johnson said he backed the joint-bid idea "100 percent," he said his town's unique position of being half in Frederick County could be a complication.
Dixie Hughes, co-owner of Hughes Trash Removal, said Friday morning that her company, while too small now to handle all five or six towns, would bid on such a contract.
"I'd have to bid on it, because if I don't, I know I'm out of business," she said. She said she doesn't like the mayors' plans, because her company relies on service to individual homes.
With bids, she said, "We don't feel we could compete with those bigger haulers because they can make money outside the county. We are strictly a Carroll County hauler."
Jackson S. Haden of Haden Trash Removal said the mayor's proposal was unusual, but could work depending on how the bid was structured. Haden also owns Phoenix Recycling in Finksburg.
"I think we could, and I think we would (bid on it),"he said. But eventually, he said, the county would do better to havesome unified plan for trash and recycling.
"If they're going to change the system, in the end it needs to be unified. You can't have the towns doing one thing and the county another. They're going to have to get together on it eventually."