Commissioners, haulers, homeowners debate trash collection

October 07, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Are Carroll County residents unhappy with trash collection service? Do they think they pay too much to private haulers? Do they want government to step in to lower costs?

At a meeting yesterday to discuss trash collection, town mayors and private haulers were invited to present their opposing views to the county commissioners. About 35 people attended.

The commissioners had heard their arguments before. The county has been studying whether to change its collection system for the past few years. The mayors want a change; the haulers do not. The commissioners won't decide.

The haulers say residents are not complaining about service or price. The mayors, led by Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, say residents pay too much and the county should set up a countywide system to lower collection costs.

Residents contract individually with private haulers.

At yesterday's meeting the commissioners did not discuss the issue among themselves, nor say when or if they would decide. Last month, Mr. Brown tried to pressure them into acting before the Nov. 8 election.

Mr. Brown is running for a commissioner seat, and Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy are seeking re-election.

But it is Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, who will be out of office in December, who will not take a stand. She did not say anything during the 75-minute meeting.

"I wanted to hear what everybody else had to say," she said afterward.

Ask the citizens what they want, she said, supporting a suggestion by Mount Airy Mayor Gerald R. Johnson Jr.

Mayor Johnson said the county should place the question on the Nov. 8 ballot: "Let the residents speak for once."

Officials said it is too close to the election to add anything to the ballot.

Mrs. Gouge said she believes it would be cheaper if haulers worked in assigned areas, but she doesn't expect the system to change soon. It's up to residents to complain if they're not happy, she said.

"If the people are satisfied, let them pay the bill," Mrs. Gouge said.

Mr. Dell has said he does not want to change the current system. Mr. Lippy said he would like to see a countywide system.

A 10-member citizens committee that studied the issue was unable to reach a majority decision this year. Half the group, which included three hauling company owners, said the system should not change.

The other half recommended the county contract with haulers to collect trash in designated districts. The committee members estimated residents could save about $41 per year with this system.

Residents now pay $100 to $200 a year for service.

Mr. Brown said a contract five Carroll towns have with Waste Management Inc. proves that an organized collection can save money. Residents in those towns -- Westminster, Hampstead, Taneytown, New Windsor and Union Bridge -- pay about $85 per year for service.

He estimated that residents would pay a maximum of $110 per year under a countywide system.

Sandy Gover, owner of S&B Hauling Inc. in Finksburg, said she was so upset by Mr. Brown's stand that she would discourage residents from voting for him even though they both are Republicans.

Yesterday, she gave the commissioners a petition signed by 100 people who do not want the collection system changed. Mr. Brown said the petition probably does not represent the opinion of most residents.

The commissioners must determine what is best for all residents, Mr. Brown said: "It's a question of whose interest you are serving."

Mrs. Gover and other haulers said they probably would go out of business if forced to compete with larger companies for county business.

"I believe it is time to take care of our small business owners in Carroll County," she said.

dTC Matthew Brigance, president of Liberty Disposal Inc. in Finksburg, said residents should be allowed to choose their own haulers. The current system is free enterprise, which works best, he said.

Edward Hughes, owner of Hughes Trash Removal Inc. in Hampstead, said the county should compensate small haulers if they are forced out of business. His 21 workers would be unemployed, and he would lose money invested in equipment, he said.

Pamela S. Metz, manager of the Maryland/Delaware Solid Waste Association, agreed that haulers should be compensated.

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