The Illinois company handling Carroll's recyclables has asked the county to renegotiate a contract it signed five months ago to help it pay the cost of compliance with Maryland environmental regulations.
Waste Management of North America East, based in Oak Brook, Ill., must spend almost $1 million on its Finksburg plant to comply with state flood plain regulations, company spokesman Bill Plunkett said yesterday.
The company also is interested in offering more services to the county, including trash hauling and transfer services, he said.
Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy said county staffers who met with company officials said they were told the company is losing money on the Carroll operation.
Mr. Dell said he is frustrated with the situation because the contract was signed so recently.
"The ink's hardly dry," Mr. Lippy said.
The county signed a five-year contract May 11 with Phoenix Recycling Inc., which Waste Management bought from Jack Haden in June. The contract is worth $258,000 the first year. The cost in the following years depends on the amount of recyclables processed.
Under the contract, Waste Management collects recyclables from haulers and markets the materials. Recycling is voluntary in Carroll, but the state has mandated that the county must recycle 15 percent of its waste by 1994. Carroll's recycling rate was at 14 percent in September, county officials announced last week.
Waste Management officials asked to renegotiate the contract in an Oct. 8 meeting with county staffers, County Attorney Charles W. "Chuck" Thompson Jr. said yesterday.
He said the staffers asked the company to explain in writing why it wants to renegotiate and how conditions have changed since the contract was signed, and Carroll officials are waiting for the company's reply.
Mr. Thompson said the county isn't interested in renegotiating, but did not reject the possibility.
Mr. Dell said he would consider renegotiating with Waste Management because of the state recycling mandate.
Mr. Plunkett said state regulations require Waste Management to submit a flood disaster plan that would prevent material from escaping from its building if a flood occurred. This means the company would have to improve the building substantially, he said.
The company's recycling business would not support such an investment, he said.
Mr. Plunkett said he did not know if the regulations were in place when Waste Management bought Phoenix.
Department of Natural Resources spokesman Robert Gould, reached late yesterday, said he would check on the regulations today.
Waste Management is not trying to cancel its contract, Mr. Plunkett said.
"We recognize we have a contract with the county, and we intend to honor it," he said.
The county is protected by a $258,000 bond required in the contract, Mr. Thompson said.
Waste Management also holds a three-year contract with six Carroll towns to collect trash and recyclables. Town managers from Taneytown and Hampstead said yesterday the company had not asked the towns to renegotiate their contracts.