Solid Waste Authority considered

July 01, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll should have an independent body to oversee garbage collection and disposal in the county, and the concept must be studied before such a group could be formed, the county commissioners said yesterday.

But another study on garbage only delays a decision that could save county residents money, Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to begin the process of forming a Solid Waste Authority that would have responsibility for daily operations at county landfills, the closing of landfills, and setting and collection of fees.

Because Carroll does not have home rule, the commissioners must ask the county's legislative delegation to submit a bill in the General Assembly next year to establish the authority.

Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview that the commissioners have studied the issue of how to dispose of the county's garbage for the past four years and should be ready to make a decision.

Mr. Brown is running for a county commissioner seat in elections later this year.

"This seems like another way to delay a decision on this for up to another two years," he said.

The commissioners' meeting yesterday was billed as "Decision on Solid Waste Collection Study." The study was written by a citizens' committee and was given to the commissioners in January.

The commissioners did not specifically discuss the study yesterday.

The committee split 5-5 on a decision. Half the committee said the county should coordinate a trash-collection system using private haulers; the other half said the county should continue its current system.

County residents contract with private haulers for service. Residents of five Carroll towns have a three-year contract with Waste Management Inc. to collect trash. The towns are Westminster, Hampstead, Taneytown, New Windsor and Union Bridge.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who is running for re-election, said establishing a countywide trash collection system would create problems for the government. Haulers and residents likely would have complaints, he said.

"We get enough calls already," he said.

Mayor Brown said residents probably would have to spend less on trash collection if the county coordinated the system.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy, who is running for re-election, said establishing a Solid Waste Authority would remove the garbage issue "from the realm of politics."

An authority would be appointed by the commissioners and be made up of "a complete spectrum of all interested parties," he said.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said the commissioners should retain some control over a Solid Waste Authority to adjust fees, if needed.

Mrs. Gouge is the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate William S. Shepard.

Mr. Dell said it would be premature to determine the specifics of the authority before the county has permission to form it.

In the 1993 General Assembly session, the commissioners asked local delegates to introduce a bill to form a Solid Waste Authority, but the delegation voted against it.

The lawmakers told the commissioners they had "the cart before the horse," Mrs. Gouge said.

The commissioners have studied, but not decided, how to dispose of the county's waste after the Northern Landfill is full in 10 to 15 years.

Yesterday, the commissioners voted that town mayors and county staff members should meet to study solid waste authorities in different areas to get ideas about what works best.

The commissioners will present their legislative proposal to the delegation in the fall.

The commissioners also voted to ask the mayors to extend the towns' contract with Waste Management for another year to allow time to study and establish a Solid Waste Authority.

The three-year contract expires June 30, 1995.

Mr. Brown said he would talk with the other mayors about the request but did not think it likely they would agree to extend the contract.

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