The Carroll commissioners Wednesday proposed increasing the tipping fee at the county's landfills by $25 per ton to finance a proposed recycling program.
Under the commissioners' preliminary plan, the tipping fee would increase to $40 from $15. County officials said the increase would cover the costs of a recycling program and would not provide additional money for related projects.
"That figure is not carved in stone," said Commissioner Elmer Lippy. "But I wouldn't be surprised if it's the figure we wind up with."
Trash haulers, who pay the tipping fee, would pass the additionalcost on to their customers. Annual trash bills in Carroll from residents without municipal collection range from $130 to $160.
The decision to increase the fee came after several trash haulers serving the county balked at an alternative plan that would have required them to bill customers for recyclables.
Haulers objected that imposing a "solid waste management fee" on customers would be burdensome and would provide loopholes for residents who don't want to be charged forthe program.
County Attorney Charles W. Thompson said that the decision to increase the tipping fee was the simplest, fairest and mosteffective way to pay for the program, set to begin July 1.
"We'renot trying to burn anybody. We're trying to operate a good recyclingprogram," he said.
Several issues remain unresolved: monitoring the content of recyclables dropped off at a designated recycling facility; determining whether commercial customers will be allowed to phase in recycling; and levying fees for stickers on haulers' containers.
The staff is expected to make recommendations to the commissioners on those issues.
Commissioners dismissed a proposal to phase in the recycling program for residential customers. Haulers said similarprograms in Howard and Montgomery counties have worked well.
Lippy said that haulers could have initiated a volunteer recycling program but haven't done so. County officials said they are looking not only to meet but to exceed a 15 percent recycling mandate set by the state. County residents currently recycle about 6 percent of the waste stream.
"We want to do better than that," Lippy said.
The county's program, implemented to meet the state-mandated goal by 1994, would include the pickup and sorting of newspapers, office paper, mail, aluminum cans, glass containers, plastic, phone books and corrugated boxes.
The county is negotiating a contract with Phoenix Recycling Inc. to serve as the recycling center.