Commissioners decide not to raise tipping fee

April 21, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll commissioners voted unanimously yesterday not to increase the tipping fee for dumping in county landfills, but one commissioner warned that they are just postponing the inevitable.

"We have the problem now. Next year, we're going to have the same problem, only worse," Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said.

The commissioners had considered raising the fee to $53 a ton from $40 a ton to help meet the increasing costs of building and operating landfills.

Carroll Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman had recommended the increase three weeks ago.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell and Mr. Lippy said then that an increase was likely. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said the county should recycle more and look into other ways to dispose of trash.

Yesterday, Mr. Curfman said money raised by the current $40 fee would cover operating costs and payments on debt for solid waste capital projects for fiscal year 1994, which begins July 1, but not for the following year.

The commissioners agreed they would look to reduce the amount of trash dumped at the landfill and for ways to finance solid waste projects.

"We haven't done enough as a county to compost and do all these other things to justify raising the fee again," Mrs. Gouge said. "I'm just not willing to raise it again."

The last increase was in mid-1992 when the commissioners raised the fee from $15 a ton to $40 a ton.

Mr. Dell said the issue presents problems because, as the amount of trash being dumped in landfills is reduced, the cost per ton to handle it increases.

But by reducing the amount of trash dumped, the county extends the life of its landfills and saves on the cost of building new ones, Mr. Curfman said.

Mr. Dell advocates building an incinerator at Northern Landfill to eliminate the need for landfills.

Mr. Lippy said he was concerned that if the commissioners did not raise the tipping fee they would be passing on the problem of landfill costs to the next board of commissioners.

Mr. Curfman had recommended an increase in the tipping fee to $53 a ton because new "generally accepted accounting standards" that take effect in 1994 require the county to charge a tipping fee high enough to help pay for future landfill costs.

If the county increased the fee to cover all required changes, the fee would be $61 per ton in fiscal 1994, he said. He recommended that the increase be phased in.

Yesterday, Mr. Curfman said the tipping fee would not have to be in creased as much if the county issued bonds to pay for some landfill projects. But the county can issue only so many bonds before it loses its good credit rating.

Most -- $33 -- of the current fee goes toward operating costs, he said. The remaining $7 pays for capital costs.

Planned capital projects include closing part of Hoods Mill Landfill and opening another part of Northern Landfill.

Mrs. Gouge said the county should talk to federal officials about regulations that govern the way landfills are closed. The regulations require costly work, and the federal government does not contribute any money for it, she said.

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