TANEYTOWN -- Two Fairground Village residents trashed the City Council Monday for not enforcing a garbage ordinance that some city officers did not know existed.
Terri Wetzel and Georgia Krug, next door neighbors in the 100 block of Carnival Drive, complained that people put trash out a day or more before pick-up, drawing animals that dig through the garbage. The women said the trash is a health and safety hazard.
"The smell of the left out garbage even gagged a trash man," Mrs. Krug said. "It doesn't seem like this town is doing anything to stop this."
An ordinance says trash must be placed in a receptacle and may not be placed on the curb more than 12 hours before trash pickup at 6 a.m. every Thursday.
During the meeting, the two women asked City Attorney Thomas F. Stansfield to read the ordinance, and he told them there was none.
City Manager Joseph Mangini corrected him, citing the law which has been on the books since 1972.
"They spend money sitting around and making these ordinances, but they refuse to enforce it," Mrs. Wetzel said. "The trash gets put out in bags, the cats get into it and the next thing we know we're picking it up in our front yards, and it's not fair."
Said Mr. Mangini, "The genius of government is knowing when to apply the law. If we enforced every ordinance currently on the books, we'd have the whole town before a judge."
But, he said, he will cite violators rigidly if the council tells him to.
"I don't want this city viewed as a Gestapo state," he said. "But if that's what the mayor and council want me to do, I'll enforce all of them."
Mr. Mangini said the enforcement of the garbage ordinance will go through his office, first with a letter explaining the violation and the amount of time the person has to correct the deficiency. That will be followed by a warning, giving more time to do the job.
The last step will involve police officers handing out the final citations, with fines of $25 for the first offense and $50 for any repeats.
Both Mrs. Wetzel and Mrs. Krug believe the introduction of once-weekly trash and recyclables pickup has contributed to the problem.
"The taxpayers had no say in how often we got trash pick-up a week, and now we have all this trash sitting outside for the animals to attack," Mrs. Krug said. "All they did was send us a survey to see if we would like citywide pickup.
"They told us we would lose nothing and actually get a savings, but all I got was trash dragged across my yard by somebody's cat," she said.
Mr. Mangini said the council voted to switch collection service from twice a week to once a week after holding a public meeting on the issue and hearing people's points of view.
He favors a weekly service, but feels the ordinance needs to be revised to reflect changes in the times.
"Just as strongly as [Mrs. Wetzel and Mrs. Krug] would fight for two days, I'd fight for one day, because that's all I need," he said. "I bet there would be plenty of people in town who would agree with me.
"But I will suggest that the ordinance be revised. At present, it reads that all trash must be placed in metal receptacles. I'd bet I could go to [Mrs. Wetzel's and Mrs. Krug] Thursday and cite them for using the improper receptacle, but I'm not going to do that."
Although he recognizes people are breaking the law -- he admits to being in violation himself when he places garbage bags, without receptacles, on the curb outside his home -- Mr. Mangini said he believes the two women's problem is particular to town house developments like Fairground Village.
"The biggest problem they have is their area," Mr. Mangini said. "When you have people living in such close quarters, the trash may become a problem."
But Mrs. Wetzel insisted that she has talked with many people form all over town who say the problem is getting progressively worse with the one-day service.
Mr. Mangini said he believes the women are sincere, and he is sympathetic with them, but he doesn't believe the need for a two-day pickup service is as widespread as Mrs. Wetzel and Mrs. Krug contend.
"If there are a whole lot of people who call my office, give me their name and address and tell me they need two-day service, I'll at least consider it," he said.