The Carroll commissioners decided yesterday to reward the lone regular user of the county's septic-waste treatment facility, a hauler who is operating on an expired county Health Department permit.
The commissioners agreed that when the septic system of a county-owned building needs to be pumped out, they will steer the business to A. Roy Fringer and Son, Westminster.
Commissioner Donald I. Dell proposed that the county government give "consideration" in its business to the hauler who is "the only one using the facility." Ted Fringer, owner of A. Roy Fringer and Son, won praise from the commissioners several months ago for being the only hauler to dump waste regularly at the facility.
Health Department officials confirmed that Mr. Fringer is technically operating without a license because his renewal is overdue. Charles L. Zeleski, director of environmental health, said it is "not unusual" for private haulers to lag behind the deadline for renewing their permits.
Mr. Fringer could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Haulers pay no fee for license renewals, but must allow environmental health personnel to inspect their trucks. Mr. Zeleski said the health department sends letters in one to two months to haulers whose renewals are overdue. He said a letter has not yet gone out to the Fringer service.
Mr. Zeleski said the state can levy penalties against haulers who refuse to obtain licenses. He said county health officials prefer to work with the haulers, and have never had to invoke state law against a hauler here.
Rewarding Mr. Fringer was the only solution the commissioners came up with yesterday to recoup operating costs for the septic-waste treatment facility.
Most of the county's 10 licensed waste haulers are bypassing the facility. Haulers admit privately that many dump in Baltimore County, where the 2-cent-per-gallon charge is considerably cheaper than Carroll's fee. Baltimore County law prohibits dumping of out-of-county waste, but county officials admit enforcement is difficult.
Local haulers predicted 14 months ago that the commissioners wouldn't be able to recoup operating costs. They said the 9-cent-per-gallon fee that the county government levied for use of the facility would drive business away.
The commissioners halved the fee in April, but still failed to attract much business from haulers. A spokesman at the city wastewater treatment plant said the facility is handling about 30,000 to 40,000 gallons of septic waste and 75,000 gallons of leachate (water leached through landfills) a month.
The commissioners have paid Westminster city government about $18,200 to operate the septic-waste facility since it opened in January. The unit, which cost $1.9 million to build, is at the Westminster sewage treatment plant in Avondale.
The city will bill the county about $3,000 this month, reported Dale Taylor, city accounting coordinator. He said the monthly charge varies, depending on Westminster's operating costs and usage of the facility.
County Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman said he didn't know how much the county's septic tank pumping business would be worth to Mr. Fringer.
Mr. Fringer said earlier that he used the county waste facility because it was the honest thing to do. He said his business had declined when he passed the higher cost along to customers.
The commissioners appealed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment for relief from septic-waste treatment requirements. A reply from EPA noted that states are allowed to adopt more stringent regulations.
David A.C. Carroll, Maryland secretary of the environment, replied that the state considers septic-waste treatment requirements "an important part of the efforts to reduce nonpoint-source pollution of the Chesapeake Bay."