MANCHESTER — The county commissioners are pursuing recycling and trash collectionplans that defy "common sense" and will inflate costs for residents,Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown told two board members at a Maryland Municipal League meeting Thursday night.
Repeating an argument he has made several times, Brown urged the commissioners to create a combined countywide trash collection and recycling service to increase efficiency and lower costs for all Carroll residents.
"It will be a real eye-opener when you see what the average person in the county is going to pay for trash collection after July 1," Brown warned the commissioners at MML's Carroll chapter meeting at Manchester Town Hall.
Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippydefended the most recent plan for curbside recycling, which calls for independent trash haulers to contract individually with clients in unincorporated areas for the service and design their own programs. All recyclables would probably be brought to one facility for processing.
Municipalities could pursue their own trash collection and recycling plans.
The commissioners are leaning toward raising the landfill tipping fee from $15 per ton to $40 per ton to cover the costs of recycling, landfill operations and other solid waste expenses. Trash haulers would pass increased dumping fees on to customers. Mandatory recycling, scheduled to begin July 1, should decrease the tonnage dumped at landfills, contributing to the need for a fee increase.
Brown emphasized that several Carroll municipalities, including Westminster and Manchester, contract with one trash hauler to serve all municipal residents. By collecting larger volumes and running efficientroutes, the hauler can reduce costs, he said. The same hauler also should collect recyclables, he said.
By contrast, the county allowsresidents in unincorporated areas to make their own plans with trashhaulers. In some cases, several companies serve residents on the same street.
"The same good common sense applies in the County OfficeBuilding as in municipalities," said Brown, adding that several regional routes could be created and bid for separately.
"It's a big mistake to separate recycling from trash collection. It's not too late(for the county) because we haven't signed contracts. Let's not waitthree years," he said.
Brown estimated that fees for trash collection and recycling would increase from an average of about $80 to $115 per year for Westminster residents, and from about $130 to $200 annually for residents in unincorporated areas.
He said Howard County, which has countywide trash and recycling pickup, has an average cost of about $78 per resident.
Dell disputed trash collection figures from other counties, saying the systems could be subsidized in someway. He said "bureaucracy would take over" if the county operated trash and recycling services, increasing costs. Competition between trash haulers should help keep costs down, he told Brown.
"I'm not convinced a countywide program would be any better than what we have now," Dell said.
Lippy said creating a countywide trash service would require considerable study.
In other MML news, the Carroll chapter chose new officers. They are: Union Bridge Mayor Perry Jones, who replaces Taneytown Councilman James McCarron as president; SykesvilleTown Manager James Schumacher, who replaces Hampstead Councilman ArtMoler as vice president; and Brown, who will continue as treasurer-secretary.