Haulers oppose higher tipping fees

May 29, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Private haulers would take their trash elsewhere if Carroll County commissioners doubled the fee to dump construction debris in county landfills and raised the fee for other trash, some haulers said Friday.

Representatives from eight refuse companies pushed the commissioners to make a decision about increasing the tipping fee. The commissioners -- who have been considering an increase for more than a year -- said they probably would make a decision Tuesday.

The commissioners invited the haulers to a meeting Friday afternoon at the County Office Building to discuss the proposed tipping fee increase and the collection of yard waste. Thirteen haulers attended the 75-minute meeting.

Afterward, the commissioners said the haulers gave them new information on the issue and said they would consider it before making a decision about a fee increase.

Haulers are sensitive to any tipping fee increase because they must keep their prices competitive. The county has no countywide trash collection; residents must hire private haulers.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he had been prepared to vote (( Friday to increase the tipping fee by $9, to $49 a ton, and to double the fee to dump construction debris, known as rubble, from $40 per ton to $80 per ton.

Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman recommended that increase last week. The county must generate more money for its landfill operations to cover future landfill operating and capital costs.

Mr. Dell, who is running for re-election, said he would reconsider his decision after hearing haulers say they would take trash to cheaper landfills in other Maryland counties or to private landfills Pennsylvania.

"I'm not going to doubt their word," he said.

The county is trying to reduce the amount of garbage dumped in its landfills through recycling and composting efforts, but would lose money if the volume of trash dumped at the landfills decreased significantly.

Matthew Brigance of Liberty Disposal Inc. called the proposed $80-per-ton fee for rubble "outrageous." Haulers can dump rubble at a fraction of that cost at private landfills in Pennsylvania, he said.

Or they could mix rubble with other trash and dump it at the lower rate, he said.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said she would reconsider the $80 rubble fee, but added that a smaller increase for rubble would mean the fee for other garbage probably would have to be increased to $53 per ton.

Mr. Curfman had recommended a $13-per-ton increase before the commissioners asked him to pare it.

Mrs. Gouge, who is running for a District 5 state delegate seat, said she is against raising the tipping fee. She said she would like the county to subsidize landfill operations for a year to see if recycling and composting efforts can keep costs down.

"I just think people are fed up with the high cost," she said.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy, who also is running for re-election, said he would support charging the $80 rubble fee despite the haulers' complaints.

The county probably would lose some volume, but staff members cannot spend a lot of time and effort calculating a rate designed to keep haulers in Carroll, he said.

The haulers also said they would like three months' notice before a tipping fee increase takes effect. The commissioners had said any fee increase would be effective July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year. They said Friday they would consider delaying any increase until Sept. 1.

"I've got to hold up my billing till you make a decision," said Grace Shaughney of GEM Collections Inc. in Westminster.

Walt Davenport of Eastern Waste Industries Inc. in Finksburg said some customers pay for trash collection a year in advance. If the tipping fee increases, his company would have to ask customers for more money during the year or take a loss, he said.

The haulers and commissioners also discussed yard waste, which the county banned from burial in its landfills May 1. The state will fine any county that dumps yard waste in its landfills after Oct. 1.

The ruling has caused problems, the haulers said.

"We're making all of our customers mad," Mr. Davenport said.

Before May 1, he and other haulers had picked up yard waste -- grass clippings, branches and other vegetation -- but now can't do it as easily because it can't be mixed with garbage. EWI has assigned a truck just to pick up yard waste, but "we're losing our shirt doing it," Mr. Davenport said.

The landfills do not charge to accept yard waste, but it must be separated. The county composts the waste and distributes the resulting mulch for free.

Mr. Curfman said the county is developing brochures and programs to educate residents about how they can improve their lawns by not raking grass clippings.

The commissioners also asked haulers whether they would consider charging customers by the bag instead of the ton to save money for residents who generate a small amount of trash.

The haulers said they generally discount their price for households that set out only a bag or two of trash a week.

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