Five municipalities in the county have broken precedent by accepting a unified bid from Haden Trash Removal that will save them all money over bidding separate contracts.
But Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, who came up with the maverick proposal two months ago, is still disappointed that his idea didn't prompt the county commissioners to start a countywide trash pickup, with different routes contracted to the lowest bidder for each.
Hampstead's Town Council voted unanimously for the unified bid of $44 a household, and Union Bridge, Taneytown, New Windsor and Westminster officials say they will accept it, Brown said at a news conference yesterday.
The savings per town vary, the highest being $15,000 annually for Taneytown, compared with bids for that town alone, Brown said. This will be the first year Taneytown residents will have municipally run trash pickup.
On its own, Hampstead would have to pay $49 a household for trash and recycling pickup, also from Haden. The current trash contract with Eastern Waste Industries is $36, but it doesn't include recycling. That contract expires June 30.
Union Bridge has received one slightly lower bid on its own, but has agreed to go along with the unified bid, which requires all five municipalities to participate.
"It's the cheapest way to go," said Hampstead Town Manager John A. Riley.
Brown also took the opportunity to blast the county commissioners for failing to develop a comprehensive trash and recycling policy.
"It is not a responsible response for the commissioners to do nothing but raise the cost of dumping in the landfill," said Brown. The commissioners voted to raise the tipping fee at the landfill to $40 a ton from the current $15.
"It is unfortunate that the commissioners drag out the lament that the state is interfering with Carroll County by requiring 15 percent recycling," he added. "I don't honestly believe that the county is going to study countywide trash collection."
He noted that countywide recycling would reduce the amount of trash dumped into the landfill. If the county had a system for composting yard waste, it could reduce the amount of garbage sent to a landfill by another 18 to 20 percent, according to Brown.
"It would be cheaper for the county to compost and give it away than to continue dumping into the landfill," he said.
Under current projections, the landfill will be filled by 2010. Brown said countywide recycling could extend its life 20 years.
He said he expects recycling pickup through Haden to begin by Aug. 1. Collections will be made twice a week, one for non-recyclables and the other for recyclable items. Haden will provide plastic baskets for recyclable trash.
Brown said he would have preferred a mandatory system, but there isn't enough time to educate the public and get the system organized.
He said Westminster's recycling program will begin as voluntary. If the response over the first six to 12 months is not satisfactory, the mayor said, he would make recycling in the city mandatory.
A satisfactory participation rate is 80 percent of the city's households, Brown said.
Hampstead Councilman Gary Bauer criticized the county commissioners for not making recycling mandatory. But at the same time, he recommended against the town making it mandatory.
"It seems like people are doing it on a voluntary basis here," Bauer said. "We're the third-highest in the county in tonnage [of recycleables]. We've got good response. We don't need to be nasty."
But he said the commissioners ought to make recycling mandatory because state law puts the burden on the county to enforce.
Hampstead's Riley said that if the commissioners continue to allow recycleables into the landfill, it will be difficult for a town to enforce mandatory recycling without paying an inspector to pick at residents' trash bags.
At the Union Bridge Town Council session Monday, Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. recommended that the town accept the unified bid from Haden. The town has had a private contract for both trash and recyclables with the hauler for nearly three years.
A month ago, the council had reviewed bids for the contract and considered awarding it to EWI. The Westminster company offered the lowest bid at $286 per week.
"If we go with the unified bid, our service won't change," said the mayor.
The council decided to accept the unified bid, provided the other four towns also accepted it.
"We will be getting the same service EWI offered for less money," said Councilman Bret Grossnickle.
Members will vote June 2.
Manchester will join the other towns in the contract in a year, after its three-year, $63,000-a-year contract with Hughes Trash Removal Service expires. That contract amounts to $52 per household.
The town, expecting mandatory recycling to begin in July, budgeted more than $26,400 to begin a program. When the county commissioners decided to make recycling voluntary, the town council kept the funding intact.
"If there is any way that we can carry out a recycling plan, we just might do it," said David Warner, the town's project's administrator. The council expects to discuss recycling issues with Hughes officials this week.