Garbage pickup bill trashed at hearing as too restrictive

April 08, 2009|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon's bill to reduce trash pickup to once a week must be cleaned up before it can become law, City Council members and community leaders said at a hearing Tuesday, warning that it could have unintended consequences and prove too restrictive.

For example, the bill as written "effectively eliminates" all trash pickup for some renters because their buildings, which could include up to seven townhouses, would be eligible to use only a single 64-gallon trash can, testified Amy Macht, president of Regional Management Inc..

Celeste Amato, a spokeswoman from the Department of Public Works, said the department would study that issue to determine how many properties it could affect.

Others who testified, including Carolyn Blanchard Cook, a lobbyists for the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, said the proposed limitations to collection of refuse are too severe. The city hauls up to 80 gallons of trash from each home twice a week under current law. That would be reduced to 64 gallons removed once a week under the new proposal.

Those reductions in trash pickup would be offset by increasing recycling to once a week, said David Scott, head of the Department of Public Works. And the city will pick up an unlimited amount of recyclables, he said. On average, officials said, the city now picks up 64 gallons per house per week.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she wants a guarantee of weekly recycling pickup in the law. Otherwise, she said, future mayors could reduce that to save money.

"We don't have any objection to that," Amato said. "We have no problem guaranteeing the service."

Scott also said he is slowing down a plan to distribute garbage cans to all city residents in July. Residents raised concerns that a single 64-gallon can would be too large for some areas.

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