Per-bag Trash Fee Idea Should Be Junked


April 01, 1992|By Russ Mullaly

I've got some trashy business to discuss with you this week. The proposed trash tax, that is, among other things. If the trash tax is passed, it's not so much the flat fee that could cause abuse or problems, it's the proposed fee per bag hinted at for the future.

Maybe people could stomach a flat yearly fee for trash removal. But when you are charged for how much trash you put out, the trouble starts. Yes, I know the idea is to encourage recycling. It's admirable in theory, but problematic in reality.

I'm afraid this secondary charge over and above the initial flat fee is the sticky wicket. If the charge is based on so many bags overa predetermined limit, what about bag size? One could probably use humongous bags several times the size of regular trash bags, and say, "I only put out two bags" when, in fact, those two bags could probably hold everybody's trash from that entire block.

This proposed feefor excess garbage bags could create a new wave of illegal dumping. People will drive their excess garbage to a secluded area, construction site, or just some place along the road, and dump it. The county will then have to have workers pick it up and transport the offending junk or garbage to the landfill, creating additional expense to the county.

What about neighbors placing their excess garbage in front of somebody else's house by dark of night, so they can avoid being charged by the county?

The victims would never know, because in mostplaces, the garbage is collected early in the morning before many have arisen. When the bill comes, there will be cries of outrage: We never put that much trash out!

Or perhaps some of these folks will drive their trash around until they see a Dumpster in a shopping center or an apartment complex and dispose of it there. Let's face it, there are always plenty of these types around who try to find some way to avoid a law.

Do you think special Trash Police would have to be hired to stop illegal disposal practices (more expense for the county)? Remember illegal medical and hazardous waste disposal?

Just howwill the county determine who is over the limit in their trash allotment? Are the collectors going to have to carry a record book with residents' names to keep track of number of bags per residence? This will no doubt lead to decreased efficiency.

And what of the sanitation workers? Do you think they will really want to have to keep records in a driving rain, high winds, or when the temperature is in the teens?

Can you see Howard County residents getting fed up with the whole idea and staging a trash revolt? Picture this: people dressed ingarbage bags, with holes cut out for eyes and appendages, dumping trash en masse at the county office building in protest. The Howard County Trash Party -- talk about being dumped on!

There are a few other thoughts to chew on. Don't you think County Council members serve on too many boards? I have a problem, for example, with the council members also being Zoning Board members, and, as such, not being able to discuss matters of zoning with the people they represent as council members.

Don't you think that money talks too much in this county and, for that matter, in the whole country? Corporations have too much influence over governing bodies. There's pressure to change zoning for projects that will make millions of dollars for a few at the expense of quality of life for many.

We need to take our county, andour country, back, to use an overused expression. Governing bodies need to be more responsive to the people, not just the corporation.

Finally, here's one for you: I received an anonymous letter with no return address that suggested I make my opinion column more impartial. That's unique, an opinion/commentary column with no opinions!

Bythe way, letters with no return addresses or signatures usually get dumped (sorry, recycled) by yours truly. I was only being curious this time. My name appears at the top of this column to show ownership of my thoughts, whether you agree with me or not.

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