County Executive Charles I. Ecker told representatives of two Columbia villages Thursday he would consider postponing once-a-week trash collection until after residents have gotten used to an expanded recycling program.
The county plans to limit trash collection to six bags one day a week in the villages of Long Reach and Oakland Mills beginning Oct. 1. At the same time, it plans to begin an expanded recycling program that will allow residents to dispose of unlimited quantities of glass, cans, plastics, grass, leaves and printed paper.
The 1988 Maryland Recycling Act requires the county to recycle 20percent of its solid waste by January 1994.
Combining the expanded recycling program with once-a-week trash collection will expand, rather than limit, service to the community, Ecker said.
Al Dunn, chairman of the Oakland Mills village board, disagreed, saying the county needs to get more people to participate in recycling before takingaway a day of trash collection. The percentage of recyclers now is about 60 percent, Dunn said.
Ecker said he doubted the recycling numbers would increase without an incentive. Cutting down on trash collection could provide such an incentive, he said.
Dunn told Ecker that cutting down on trash collection could have the opposite effect. The reaction to losing a trash day has been "fairly hostile," Dunn said, adding that many people will associate recycling with reduced trash collection and therefore view it as a bad thing.
Another problem, according to Kathryn Mann, assistant village administrator in LongReach, is the way the situation was handled. "People are concerned because they didn't participate" in the decision-making process and resent "having it imposed on them," she said.
"We need to do a selling job, offer some good justification and show some numbers," Dunn told Ecker.
The fact that once-a-week trash collection saves money -- an estimated $156,000 annually in Long Reach and Oakland Mills alone -- should not be one of those justifications, Oakland Mills villagemanager Susan Schmugge told Ecker. "People don't want to hear it."
Ecker said county officials would conduct informal meetings in LongReach and Oakland Mills in September, to alert residents to the change. He also said they would send a notice of the change to every household.
Schmugge said her village was concerned that keeping rotting garbage around for a week could be unhealthy. She asked Ecker to wait until the end of December to limit trash pickups, so people would be able to get rid of their holiday trash quickly.
Ecker said he would "look at" the possibility of overlapping the expanded recycling program with twice-a-week trash collection and "get back to each village manager."