Don't Penalize Recyclers

Readers write

April 01, 1992

From: Virginia M. Thomas

Columbia

Several years ago, I sponsored legislation that mandated the development of recycling programs by local jurisdictions. The intent of this legislation was to extend the life of landfills whose capacity was being reduced by increasing amounts of solid waste. Recycling paper, glass and aluminum, among other items, would also reduce the amountof natural resources needed to initially produce these products. By all accounts, curbside recycling programs have been highly successfulin Howard County.

With the success of this program in mind, I am disappointed to learn that the county executive has introduced legislation that would levy a $70 fee on residential homeowners for trash collection services. While I understand current budget deficits, I am opposed to this proposal as being both counterproductive to the goalsof recycling mandate and unfair as a fee.

This trash tax or user fee for trash collection does nothing to encourage recycling, since all residences are charged the same fee regardless of the volume of trash generated. Those who recycle find that the amount of solid waste trash left at the curb for trash pickup and disposal in the landfill is greatly diminished, thus achieving the aims of the recycling initiative.

Under this proposal, residents who do the environmentally correct thing and recycle household waste will be charged a fee for a service they do not use. They will be required to pay the same fee asresidents who never recycle.

A charge per bag would be a user fee. The $70 charge per residence is merely a trash tax that is both inequitable and environmentally unsound.

There are ways of setting a user fee based on the volume of trash a household generates. This approach has much merit since it is a fair fee based on actual use and would do much more to promote and encourage participation in curbside recycling programs.

At a time when citizens are concerned with rising taxes, the county needs to reconsider this proposal and develop an appropriate user fee and not just another tax.

(Virginia M. Thomas is a member of the House of Delegates, District 13-A.)

PUPILS: DON'T CUT SCHOOLS

From: Brian Meshkin

Glenwood

An open letter to County Executive Charles Ecker:

We, the students of Glenelg HighSchool, have formed a County Budget Study Commission. This commission is a device for students to voice their opinions concerning the budget. As a commission, we feel that student participation is utterly important to the efficiency of this process.

We understand that thepresent budgetary predicament, has placed you, as county executive, in a dilemma over what aspects of the budget are expendable. Because you expressed some concern over the size of the Board of Education's budget request, we as a commission began a letter drive in our schoolthat has lasted over the past two weeks.

The purpose of this drive is to provide the students of Glenelg High School with the opportunity to share their concerns with you. The students of our school feelvery strongly that you should not make any deduction in the budget request of the Board of Education. Attached are many letters expressing this very concern.

We, the students of Glenelg High School, appeal to your devotion to the high quality of education in Howard Countyand charge that you maintain the budget request of the Board of Education for fiscal year 1993.

Any reduction in the budget request ofthe Board of Education will result in unfortunate changes in our education. As a whole, this budget already reflects the recessional economic period by not providing any salary increases or new programs. Further removal of funding from our education will result in a removal of the high quality of education in Howard County.

The students ofGlenelg High School support paying higher taxes to ensure the best education possible for ourselves. We as students understand that the quality of our education will affect our today, tomorrow and our future.

Moreover, all residents of Howard County will experience the result of such undermining of our education system. People who have moved to Howard County have chosen this county over neighboring countiesbecause of its superior educational system.

When making your decision on the budget for fiscal year 1993, please use some forethought and take into the consideration the long-term effects of your choicesregarding the quality of education in Howard County.

We would like to call to you, Dr. Ecker, to become a beacon for the future of Howard County and protect the most natural and prosperous resource that Howard County has to offer -- its youth.

(Brian Meshkin is a sophomore at Glenelg High School and chairman of the County Budget Study Commission.)

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