Harford residents will probably continue getting twice-a-week trash pickup when the county begins its curbside recycling program this winter.

But a problem, some business leaders say, is that at least one of those days will be for recyclable materials only.

Stuart J. Robinson, a Bel Air lawyer, told County Council membersat a Tuesday public hearing that commercial customers and businessesmay still need a twice-weekly pickup of regular trash.

"It's an additional tax to business," said Robinson.

"Health-care facilities, restaurants and food-related businesses are required to have trash picked up twice a week for health purposes. You may have to have a third pickup to maintain the level of services that is now required by statute."

How recyclables are collected -- and where and how they are sorted -- are key factors that determine how much extra county homeowners and commercial users will pay for curbside recycling, according to Larry Klimovitz, the county's director of administration.

"Right now, we're trying to determine the additional cost per

household," said Klimovitz.

The county is considering an environmental assessment fee of about $2 a month for each household that would be added to the average $8 monthly bill from Harford's private haulers.

The money raised from the fee will be used for environmental programs, Klimovitz said.

Klimovitz said a third weekly pickup by haulers has been ruled out as too expensive for homeowners.

"The haulers' costs would have gone up 50 percent, adding more to your monthly bill," said Klimovitz.

Consumers got good news Tuesday in connectionwith the county requirement that they use blue plastic bags so that haulers can easily identify recyclable materials.

Giant Food Inc. has agreed to begin using blue plastic grocery bags instead of tan ones, -- a move that could save homeowners the cost of buying special bags, said Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C.

County officials also hope to cut the cost of the recycling program by having aprivate company construct and operate a $3 million to $3.5 million building where recyclables could be sorted and prepared for market.

County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has agreed to seek bids from interested companies.

Rehrmann's initial plan included expansion of the Waste-to-Energy plant at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The facility is operated by the Northeast Waste Authority Inc., a quasi-state agency.

All county trash is hauled there and incinerated for $20 per ton.Ash and trash that can't be burned are sent to the county-owned Scarboro Landfill near Dublin.

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