SYKESVILLE — TC SYKESVILLE -- The county commissioners have told the town it will lose a $2 discount on landfill tipping fees if it continues taking newspapers to Phoenix Recycling Inc., the county's recycling contractor.
"They will be using our materials recovery facility for newspapers, the cheap stuff, but then taking other items somewhere else," said County Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy. "As I see it, the $38 [the tipping fee after the $2 discount] is null and void if they continue to use our MRF for their newspapers."
An angry Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. replied to the commissioners in a letter, saying, "The town will continue to use Phoenix as we require, especially for newspapers. The town residents are county residents as well."
The town has had trouble in recent months finding a recycler that will accept newspapers. After the town's recycling trailer burned last winter, Sykesville began taking its newspapers to Phoenix Recycling in Finksburg. Other recyclable materials are sold elsewhere.
About two months ago, Phoenix told the town it could not accept the town's newspapers because the facility was broken down, but the situation was only temporary, said Jack Haden, Phoenix's manager.
"What they were bringing us was really very little," Mr. Haden said.
Phoenix has contracted with Carroll to accept materials collected through the county's voluntary recycling program and delivered by licensed trash haulers. The town of Sykesville operates its own recycling program.
Mr. Haden said Sykesville was not on the county's list of licensed haulers who could use Phoenix free of charge.
Some of the recyclable materials can be sold by Phoenix, making the total collection effort profitable, but there is little demand for discarded newspapers.
Mr. Helt, however, may not have to carry through on his threat to defy the commissioners.
"I have another market for our newspapers, but it's costing us," said Mark Billet, who manages Sykesville's recycling center for Modern Junk and Salvage of Baltimore. "We're not taking newspapers from anybody but town residents now because we can't afford it. There's no market for newspapers."
Mr. Billet said residents bringing newspapers to the Sandosky Road center are being questioned to determine whether the newspapers are coming from inside the town.
Mr. Haden said the Sykesville recycling center could make a private arrangement with Phoenix to bring its newspapers there, but at a cost. The arrangement would have nothing to do with the county, he added.
Modern Junk and Salvage operates the Sykesville recycling center free of charge to the town and buys certain recyclables from residents, such as some metals. The company then finds markets for the 17 recycling items it accepts, he said.
The town gives the recycling center space in its maintenance building rent-free.
The county offered a break on the tipping fee after Sykesville officials protested that they were recycling a monthly average of 25 percent of the town's solid waste, saving it from going into the landfill.
Town officials asked to be forgiven as much as $10 of the $40-per-ton tipping fee, but the county offered a $2 discount.
"The $2 was a blanket statement and referred to all municipalities that wanted to do their own recycling," said Mr. Lippy. "We never made any promise to the town to do anything but consider their request."
Mr. Lippy said the towns were told they could use any other recycling facility they wanted, but if they used Phoenix at all, they would be charged the full $40 tipping fee.