How Towns Can Teach the County

July 06, 1994

If five Carroll County towns proceed with plans to have their solid waste dumped in a York, Pa., landfill, they could force the county government to re-think its entire solid waste collection and disposal system. This maneuver may have more impact on future solid waste plans than the newly reincarnated solid-waste study committee the county commissioners formed.

When it comes to solid waste, the commissioners have made an unfortunate practice of ignoring the wishes of the county's municipalities. They removed recycling bins from the towns without consulting town leaders. They also raised the tipping fee at the end of the budget year, making it difficult for town officials to design their budgets. Tired of this treatment, the mayors of Westminster, New Windsor, Hampstead, Taneytown and Union Bridge have decided to explore other ways of disposing of municipal garbage.

They demonstrated this when they negotiated a favorable contract with Waste Management Inc., which provides trash service to town residents at a fraction of the cost paid by other Carroll countians.

The mayors would like to continue providing their constituents with the lowest-cost trash collection possible. Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, on behalf of his counterparts, is negotiating with Waste Management to extend the existing contract for three years. To hold down costs, the company and towns are exploring new collection technologies as well as using Waste Management's York landfill rather than Carroll County's. Using Waste Management's facility would cost less, and any increases in tipping fees would be more predictable since the towns can negotiate with private enterprise in a way they can't with county government.

Without those towns paying the $45-a-ton tipping fee at Carroll's landfill, the remaining users -- namely private haulers -- would have to shoulder the costs of the landfill. Haulers would be forced to pass those costs to their customers, who would be none too pleased.

Having half the county residents up in arms might send a message to the commissioners that Carroll still doesn't have a coherent solid waste strategy. The commissioners should begin paying attention to the municipal governments that have found a way to provide their residents with efficient and affordable trash service.

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