SYKESVILLE — Sykesville's Tea Party -- in protest of a proposed county recycling tax -- may be over.
The county commissioners yesterday said they would back a plan to exempt communities such as Sykesville, which already have a recycling program in place, from a proposed tax to financea countywide plan.
"Our sentiment is that any community should be held harmless," said Commissioner Elmer Lippy. "It seems only fair."
The county, in developing a curbside recycling program, has proposed billing residents an undetermined annual fee.
Sykesville, like some other Carrolltowns, already has a recycling program in place and has been collecting newspapers, glass, plastic, cardboard, aluminum, office paper andother materials.
Since the program began 10 months ago, the town has reduced its solid waste stream by 23 percent, said Sykesville Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. The county's recycling rate is about 5 percent.
To protest the proposed recycling tax, Helt suggested residents ofthe South Carroll community send the commissioners tea bags.
"I can't believe it was so easy," Helt said about the commissioners' proposal to exempt the community from the fee. "Not a single shot was fired."
Lippy said he had received at least one tea bag.
"I made tea out of it," he said. "When you're handed a lemon, you make lemonade."
Lippy said exemptions for communities with recycling programs will be broached at an April 1 meeting between town mayors and trash haulers.
Robert A. "Max" Bair, the commissioners' assistant, stressed the exemption proposal was "very preliminary." He said, though, there should be a way for the county to accommodate communities meeting recycling goals.
"We have to make sure they get credit for what they're doing."
County attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. said resolving the differences between Sykesville and the county has been difficult.
"We have said we would try to do everything we could to protect what Sykesville has done so (the town) could continue," he said.
The county is pushing to begin aspects of a recycling program by July 1 and must recycle 15 percent of its solid waste by 1994. But there appear to be many obstacles before the commissioners.
A group of the county's mayors has proposed that the commissioners seek bids to have one trash hauler provide service, including a recycling program, to all residents. Some believe that route would be less costly.
Meanwhile, communities, such as Westminster and Taneytown, have either advertised or plan to seek bids to provide trash and recycling services for their residents.