SYKESVILLE — Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. says town residents already recycle more than 15 percent of their solid waste -- the state-mandated goal -- and shouldn't have to pay for the county's waste disposal problem.
"It's an outrage to charge residents $5 to $10 per household when they'realready meeting the goals," he said at Monday night's Town Council meeting. "I want to know -- are we going to get that fee back since we're already recycling?"
Town Manager James L. Schumacher noted that the county's proposedmandatory recycling plan would significantly affect Sykesville, the only town in the county with its own residential and commercial trashpickup.
In addition to the household charge, Schumacher said, thecounty is expected to raise its landfill tipping fees from $15 to $30 per ton.
Last May, the town opened a recycling center. The firstsix-month report showed the town took 129 tons, or 23 percent, less solid waste to the county landfill than it did the year before.
But with the county's mandate coming July 1, town officials hope to implement a mandatory recycling plan that would let them continue using their own, less expensive Public Works Department.
"We could gear up to handle curbside recycling," Mark Billet, recycling center co-manager, told the council. "The most expensive way is for us to do it, or your own people can pick it up and bring it to us for processing, which is cheaper."
Billet also suggesting following the example ofa small town in New York that requires residents to bring recyclables to a center, thus saving the cost of curbside pickup.
"Can the maintenance crew we have handle one day of curbside recycling?" Councilman William R. Hall Jr. asked.
"It would be possible if the othertrash were cut back," Schumacher said.
Part of the problem with curbside recycling is getting people to divide recyclables properly for pickup. Residents would need containers for green, brown and clear glass, plastics, metals and newspaper.
Billet said a 16-foot trailer with eight containers would do the job, but Schumacher questioned whether such a truck could maneuver on the town's narrow streets.
"Make the people bring their stuff in," said Councilman Jonathan Herman. "If you don't pick up contaminated garbage, they'll learn fast enough to separate their recyclables."
Herman also suggested taking the mandatory recycling to referendum and letting the town's residents decide how they want to do it.
Helt asked Billet and Schumacher to meet with the public works crew to discuss the options and presenta report to the council March 23.
"We've got a serious problem here, both budgetary and environmental," Helt said. "But I think we're going to have to make a little more effort and keep the county off our backs. We really do have to protest that fee."