Throwing Money Away

October 10, 1994

Maintaining the current method of trash collection in Carroll County serves the interest of the haulers at the expense of the public. The time has come for the county commissioners to decide whether they will continue to allow small garbage haulers to dictate the county's solid waste collection policy.

The evidence is undeniable -- people who don't live in the five Carroll municipalities that have a contract with Waste Management Inc. or in Sykesville, which collects it own trash, pay at least twice as much for their weekly collection. In some cases, people are paying close to $200 a year for trash pick-up -- or about $4 a week for weekly trash collection.

If Carroll residents were asked to pay a $100-a-year local surtax ,, to cover garbage collection, they would be up in arms. Subsidizing the small haulers is no different from paying a surtax, except that a local surtax would be deductible on federal tax returns.

If the question of what type of collection system residents want is put to voters, as Commissioner Julia W. Gouge suggests, the outcome is predictable: People will vote to save $100 a year.

A change to a countywide system will, in all likelihood, adversely affect the small haulers. While they may be small businessmen, they are not sacred cows who are due special protection. The rules of the marketplace apply to them as well. Our economic system rewards efficiency. Carroll's citizens have every right to use their collective weight to get the lowest-priced trash collection possible. If small haulers can't deliver their services at the lowest cost, they have to go the way of other inefficient businesses.

The commissioners should ignore small haulers' claims that they should be compensated if they are put out of business due to changes in county trash collection. When people with septic systems hook up to sewer systems, no one compensates the out-of-work septic pumpers.

Carroll's method of trash collection won't change before next month's election. Voters should remember that those candidates supporting the current system are requiring the public to pay a wholly unnecessary subsidy of at least $100 a year. We believe that most Carroll residents can think of better uses for their money.

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