Harford County and Maryland Environmental Service leaders signed a $4.7 million intergovernmental agreement Wednesday to outsource the management of the county's solid waste services to the quasi-state entity.
The ceremonial signing took place in the office of County Executive Barry Glassman, who was joined by several members of his administration and MES Director Jim Harkins, who was Harford's county executive from 1998 to 2005, before leaving to join MES.
Glassman has promoted the outsourcing of the county's Division of Environmental Services as a way to save money and increase efficiency in county government.
County and MES officials expect about $150,000 in savings during the current fiscal year – the 10-month agreement will be in effect through June 30, 2016 – and the county will use part of those savings to hire a liaison to oversee the contract with MES, according to county news release Thursday that announced the signing.
The outsourcing has affected more than 40 current county employees, however. Most of those workers have found jobs with MES or with other agencies in county government, according to the county.
Two employees who haven't, however, allege in a lawsuit that they were not offered new jobs or a transfers with the county, despite applying for them. They are asking the Harford County Circuit Court to block the outsourcing deal until a judge can rule on their claims.
The changeover to MES is due to take effect Aug. 31, and the agreement was signed despite the pending lawsuit, which was filed last Friday. The plaintiffs have sought a temporary injunction.
As of Thursday afternoon, retired Judge Maurice Baldwin had not issued a ruling on the injunction request. The attorney for the plaintiffs, John E. Kelly of Bel Air, could not be reached for comment.
"The court case is a personnel issue that has no bearing on the outsourcing," county government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Thursday.
Maryland Environmental Service, which is a non-profit, quasi-governmental state agency, will take over the management of all waste disposal and recycling services.
MES, which will be an independent contractor to the county, will be responsible for "normal, routine operation and maintenance" of five facilities, including the Harford Waste Disposal Center on Scarboro Road in Street, the Tollgate yard trim disposal site on North Tollgate Road in Bel Air, a groundwater treatment system for closed cells at the Scarboro Road site, a groundwater treatment and gas flare system for the county's closed Tollgate Landfill and a gas flare at the Bush Valley Landfill, which as also been closed, according to the agreement.
The contractor will oversee the hauling of all waste and recyclables to the waste-to-energy facility on the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground or the Scarboro Road landfill.
The facility, an incinerator that burns the trash to generate steam, is operated under an agreement with the Army that is due to end in March of 2016.
Once that agreement expires, most trash and recyclables collected in Harford County will be hauled to the Eastern Sanitary Landfill in Baltimore County, and MES will oversee those hauling operations, according to the agreement.
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The 88-page agreement can be read online at www.harfordcountymd.gov/download/2633.pdf.