Bel Air sues Harford County over fees for dumping trash HARFORD COUNTY

June 29, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

The town of Bel Air has filed a lawsuit against Harford County, contending it does not owe nearly $90,000 in "tipping fee" charges and interest for dumping trash at the county landfill.

In filing the civil lawsuit yesterday, attorneys for Bel Air cited a 1969 agreement with the county that allowed Bel Air free dumping rights.

Under that agreement, the lawsuit contends, Bel Air turned over its 9-acre landfill to the county so that it could build the County Detention Center.

In return, Harford guaranteed Bel Air the right to haul trash free for 99 years to the county's Tollgate dump, which closed in 1987. The deal was later amended to allow free dumping at the county's central dump, the Scarboro Landfill near Dublin.

The lawsuit also contends that the county does not have the authority to impose any levies other than property taxes. It contends that the purpose of the tipping fee enacted last year was primarily to raise money and therefore constitutes a tax.

The county charges haulers $35 a ton to use the county landfill. The fee is collected by landfill operators and turned over to the county.

The county has been billing Bel Air monthly for tipping fees since Sept. 29, 1992.

The county said the town owed $89,162 as of June 9. Monthly interest of 1 percent is added to the outstanding balance.

"The lawsuit is baseless," said Jefferson L. Blomquist, deputy attorney for the county.

Mr. Blomquist said yesterday that the tipping fee is not a tax but an incentive to haulers to separate recyclable waste. He said money collected in tipping fees is used to fund the county's solid waste management program.

The county charges no fee for collecting recyclable waste.

Mr. Blomquist also said the 1969 agreement never contemplated mandatory recycling laws and the cost of solid waste management.

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