Anne Arundel County lawmakers approved last night an emergency plan to make up a $1.6 million deficit in the operating budget of the Millersville Landfill.
The County Council voted 7-0 to allow County Executive John G. Gary to lower temporarily the rate charged certain commercial trash haulers.
Officials are banking that the lower rate will appeal to haulers who are now carting refuse generated within the county by businesses and apartment complexes to out-of-state "mega-fills."
The county rate is $60 per ton. The private facilities charge about half that.
Two county residents opposed the measure, both testifying that they believe the decline in commercial trash at the publicly owned landfill is a blessing. They said it would keep the Burns Crossing Road facility open longer and delay the need to find a replacement.
Officials have estimated the landfill will close between 2007 and 2010.
"I don't think the county should be drumming up business," said Ronald Carson of Chelsea Beach. "When Millersville is all filled up, what are you going to do then?"
Robert H. McKay, who lives near the Millersville Landfill, said the council instead should increase the fee residents pay for curbside trash and recycling pickup.
Last May, the council approved a 25 percent increase in the residential fee, bringing it to $198 annually. About 125,000 households receive curbside service. Still, commercial haulers subsidize the residential service, county officials say.
James Pittman, deputy director of the Department of Public Works, said the county already has received a bid from Browning-Ferris Industries to dump 80,000 tons at $40 each if the council approves the plan. He said that commitment would )) make up the shortfall.
BFI was the only company to bid for the discount, officials said.
Smaller commercial haulers have complained that the county rigged the bidding process to favor national firms like BFI. In response, Mr. Pittman said last night that the county would lower the minimum volume requirements to allow smaller haulers to compete for the discount.
Commercial tonnage at the landfill has dropped from 146,351 tons in fiscal 1994 to 94,331 tons last year.
Officials expected 75,000 tons this year, but have since revised the estimate to 48,000 tons.
In other action, the council unanimously approved bills to relax the environmental review for certain waterfront property owners and to allow a 24-screen cinema and restaurant to locate near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.