Carroll seeks alternative to increasing landfill fees

April 14, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Carroll commissioners yesterday delayed action on a proposed $13-a-ton increase in landfill tipping fees, hoping to find less costly alternatives to dumping.

"We've asked [the staff] to look into any other alternatives to make the impact a little less painful," said Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy. "That could include a study to increase composting. I'm afraid it may be too little too late. We have to make a decision shortly."

Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman has recommended that the commissioners increase the tipping fee to $53 per ton from $40 per ton to help pay for building and operating future landfills.

By composting garbage or pursuing another option, commissioners said, they may be able to lessen the increase for fiscal 1994, which begins July 1. The county already has a voluntary curbside recycling program in place and recycles about 17 percent of its trash.

"There has to be an alternative. We've simply got to begin composting garbage," said Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, urging that a study be undertaken.

The commissioners conceded that composting may be a difficult endeavor -- one that would require intensive public education.

"Not everybody is going to have the facilities or really want to compost on private property," Mr. Lippy said.

Mr. Curfman said that regardless of what alternatives become available, the operating costs of landfills will remain about the same -- about $33 of the current tipping fee goes to cover operating costs. The remaining $7 pays for capital costs.

Beginning in 1994, new "general accepted accounting standards" will require the county to charge a tipping fee high enough to help pay for future costs of landfills, he said.

Mr. Curfman has recommended the increase be phased in. If the county increased the fee to cover all required changes, it would be $61 per ton in fiscal 1994, he said. He estimated the tipping fee could go as high as $91 per ton in fiscal 1997.

"The whole point of this is how much do we want to set aside now for capital costs," Mr. Curfman said. "We know it's going to come."

The commissioners were reminded that the decision on raising tipping fees is pressing because towns that collect and send refuse to the landfills need to finalize their budgets.

"It's incumbent on us to make a decision soon," Mr. Lippy said.

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