The county commissioners boosted their efforts to begin a voluntary recycling program July 1 by awarding a $258,000 contract to a Finksburg firm to operate a collection center for recyclables.
Under the five-year contract, Phoenix Recycling Inc. will collect recyclables -- at no cost -- from trash haulers serving the county and from residents at its facility at 2700 Emory Road.
The county will pay Phoenix $258,000 to operate the facility and market the recyclables the first year. The final cost could vary, depending on the amount of recyclables collected at the facility, said county Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr.
The contract is based on Phoenix's low bid for the county's initial plan for mandatory recycling. In switching to a voluntary program, the county had to renegotiate some aspects of the contract.
The contract calls for the county to pay $200,000 for the first 12,000 tons of recyclables. The county would pay slightly more than $258,000 if the firm collects about 17,000 tons of recyclables.
"We're hopeful Phoenix does a really good job," Thompson said. "If Phoenix does a good job, the taxpayer will actually save money in the long run by avoided costs at the landfill."
In implementing a voluntary recycling program, the commissioners are working toward a state mandate for the county to recycle 15 percent of its waste by 1994. The county now recycles about 6 percent of its trash.
"We're hopeful, like everybody, that it does what we want it to do," Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said.
VTC Commissioners plan to require trash haulers to provide recycling services to their customers. Neither residential nor business customers, however, would be required to recycle.
The commissioners had been considering a mandatory recycling program, but they scrapped that plan after a recent public hearing in which residents, trash haulers and others objected to various aspects of the proposal.
Public comment has changed "the whole face of the [recycling] plan," said Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy. "This shows that we do listen."
Commissioners also plan to modify customer notices on trash bills about a proposed $25-per-ton increase in the landfill tipping fee and about the recycling program. The tipping fee will increase from $15 per ton to $40.
Next week, the board is expected to adopt revisions to the Solid Waste Management ordinance that will facilitate recycling.
Some haulers, however, questioned whether the commissioners' revised proposal would help the county meet its 15 percent recycling goal.
S & B Hauling Inc. of Finksburg has had a voluntary recycling program for its 3,400 customers since last August. While 28 percent of its customers participate, the firm is recycling just 2 to 3 percent of its trash, said owner Joe Gover.
"We only average 2 tons of recyclables a week," he said. "That's a far cry from 15 percent."