Harford tipping fee rules set to change

Harford County's public works department wants to charge out-of-county trash haulers the same tipping fee as those in Harford, resurrecting some discussion about the tipping fee in general among the county council Tuesday.

The in-county tipping fee for trash disposal went up in July 2011.


Under a bill before the council, all trash haulers, regardless of where they are from, would be charged a minimum tipping fee of $10, and $67 per ton for fiscal year 2012.

That rate would go up incrementally to $72 per ton in fiscal year 2015.


For legal reasons, the tipping fee needs to be raised for those bringing waste into the county, Tom Hilton, deputy director of the county's environmental services division, told the council during a hearing Tuesday.

"The reason for this change is to be in compliance with the dormant commerce clause," Hilton said. "We cannot discriminate against out of county waste."

Councilman Dion Guthrie asked Hilton how much trash comes into the county from other jurisdictions, explaining he has a number of about 20,000 tons per year.

Hilton noted the county has a temporary agreement to send some Harford trash to Baltimore County, which includes allowing Baltimore County to ultimately ship 250,000 tons of trash to Harford over the course of five years.

Hilton said he estimates nine to 11 trucks come into Harford daily from Baltimore County.

Councilman Chad Shrodes asked how desirable it is for suppliers from other counties to come to Harford.

Hilton replied he does not think many people would consider bringing their trash here.

"It's very expensive now with fuel," he said. "We do not see an incentive for out of county waste coming into Harford county because of the tipping fee."

Guthrie asked if the county's tipping fee is higher than most.

"I think maybe what needs to be explained is why ours is so much higher," he said.

Hilton said the fee is in line with those of other governments in the state, but is slightly higher than those for private industries.

He said private industries charge about $50 per ton, but also have some different costs because commercial haulers who deliver trash to a private company do not have access to some things.

Also on Tuesday, the council held hearings on bills requesting the appropriation of $1.3 million to cover expenses from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee; giving an economic development opportunity fund loan of $100,000 to Bizerba Label Solutions in Joppa; amending the zoning code to allow certain temporary uses for up to 45 days; appropriating $7 million to cover post-employment benefits; and entering a health care consortium with CareFirst to provide insurance up to $3.3 million for county government, the Harford County Board of Education and Harford Community College.

Legislative liaison Nancy Giorno said an amendment will change the CareFirst amount to $2.2 million.

"In view of health insurance increasing all over the place, how did we end up saving $1.1 million?" Guthrie asked.

Giorno, who was sitting in for human resources director Scott Gibson, did not have answers to most of the council members' questions on the bill, prompting Council President Billy Boniface to ask that the questions be passed on to him.

Giorno said the health care could not be shopped out to other bidders because all consortium members did not agree to that. She said she did not know why they do not agree.

About the zoning change bill, planning and zoning director Pete Gutwald explained it is because certain seasonal activities have been extended.

"It seems no matter what use there is, it seems to stretch out," Gutwald said. "You look at Christmas, it's starting in October."

Also at the meeting, Boniface noted the health department is offering a support group for those facing substance abuse.

Guthrie congratulated Ryan Wagner, a 2004 graduate of Edgewood High School, who will be the new voice of the Orioles baseball team.

Council members recognized the recent deaths of prominent community members Ann Ramsay and Randall Worthington.

Boniface focused his opening prayer on Mr. Worthington and his dedication to the community.

Councilman Chad Shrodes said of Mrs. Ramsay and Mr. Worthington: "They contributed so much and I know they will never be forgotten."

Councilman Dick Slutzky said about Mrs. Ramsay: "She was a voice of calmness and sanity in education, and will be sorely missed."

Shrodes also recognized Dewey Fox, sports writer at The Aegis, for a recent article on the 1961-1962 North Harford High School boys basketball team.

"It read like a story. After reading that article, I know there could be a movie and a book written on them," Shrodes said. "I just thought it was one of the best articles I have ever read in the paper."

Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti said she just ended her two-year leadership role with the Chesapeake Bay Initiative, and also got to unexpectedly meet President Barack Obama while at a meeting inWashington, D.C.