Buddy Blue Bag made its debut last week as the cartoon mascot for Harford's recycling program scheduled to start June 1.
But in the 11th hour before the program begins, the County Council is considering several measures that could affect the financing of the voluntary trash recycling program that will involve businesses and homeowners.
Among the measures the council is debating is a bill that would transfer $532,271 to cover advertisements and other educational efforts and equipment purchases. The $532,271 would come from tire disposalfees and and money the county charges to cart ash from the waste-to-energy plant on Aberdeen Proving Ground to Scarboro Landfill.
County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has already spent $11,900 on promotions: $3,000 for printed educational brochures; $5,000 for activity booklets for children; $2,900 for magnets; and about $1,000 for posters.
But Councilman Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, and Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, have questioned those expenditures and administration plans to spend about $109,000 to build a transfer station. The administration also wants to hire at least four new employees, which Glassman said would add to the county's bureaucracy.
The council must act on the money transfer bill and any amendments by May 5 or the measure will die.
Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, said he is concerned about another bill before the council that would exempt for one year the county's three municipalities -- Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace -- from paying a $35-per-ton tipping fee.
A separate bill, which would have delayed charging the municipalities and the county's private trash haulers the tipping fee until July 1 was narrowly defeated, 4-3, last week. That bill was aimed at keeping the county's three municipalities from having to come upwith money to pay the tipping fee in the last month of the fiscal year.
Had the bill been passed, the county would have incurred a loss of $300,000, said Klimovitz.
"Right now we're robbing Peter to pay Paul. I'm using money from the Department of Public Works and the Bureau of Environmental Affairs to pay for these start-up costs, but eventually I'll need to replace that money to keep those departments running through the end of this fiscal year," said Klimovitz.
"Thecouncil approved and adopted the recycling plan, and this was all laid out in the plan," he added. "I never thought the council would have second thoughts about their commitment to recycling."
Meanwhile,Buddy Blue Bag, a cartoon character that is a blue plastic bag with arms, legs and a chipper smile, has started work to get the public ready for the recycling program start-up June 1. Buddy's job is to helpthe public understand that glass, tin, plastic, steel and aluminum containers may be mixed in a blue plastic bag for recycling, but newspapers must be stored in a separate bag. All the bags will be picked up at curbside.