Yard waste fee eyed

Commissioners consider charging to dispose of large loads at landfill

Residents not likely affected

Officials say revenue would cover cost of maintaining equipment

April 16, 2002|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners are considering charging county residents and business owners for the disposal of large loads of yard waste at the county landfill, a service the county provides for free.

The equipment for grinding down yard waste - leaves, grass, tree limbs and mulch - has been worn down by large loads, and the charge might help mitigate the county's cost of updating the machines, said Gary L. Horst, Carroll's director of enterprise and recreation services.

Horst said charging $15 for every ton above the first 1,000 pounds would raise an extra $60,000 in revenue, based on last year's statistics. That amount would cover most of the maintenance fees for the equipment, he said.

Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Julia Walsh Gouge said they wouldn't want to impose fees on a large group of residents, but with the charge applying only to large loads, few residents would be affected, Horst said.

He said that about 1,200 of the county's 20,600 recorded yard waste transactions at the Northern Landfill last year involved loads of 2 tons or more. Horst said those transactions, though 6 percent of the total, accounted for about 34 percent of the yard waste processed last year.

County operators suspect that at least some of the waste was from outside Carroll, Horst said. "Those aren't homeowners," he said.

Gouge recommended that Horst contact companies that take large amounts of yard waste to the county landfill to determine whether a $15 or higher fee would deter them. County officials would not want the flow of yard waste to stop because they hope one day to mix the waste with treated sludge and sell the product as compost.

Horst has long promoted such a resale program as an easily achievable new revenue source for the county, and said the funds from such a program could eliminate the need for an extra charge on yard waste.

Frazier asked whether Horst could devise a way to charge businesses but not residents. Horst said such differentiation probably would prove more trouble than it would be worth.

Other counties in the Baltimore metropolitan area charge fees for large loads and some won't take commercial yard waste at all, Horst said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell did not attend the presentation.

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