Cecil County Council Talks Trash, and Not Just Garbage
Trash-talking is often par for the course in some of the rhetoric employed by at least one member of the Cecil County Council during the panelâs meetings, and Tuesdayâs worksession was no exception. But at least some of the talk by another county official will turn trash into gold.
Scott Flanigan, the countyâs Director of Public Works, told the Council that a new contractor had proposed paying the county for handling recycling of paper, metals, cans, etc.âinstead of the current contractorâs âzero-zeroâ approach that takes the recyclables at no cost to the county but also doesnât share with the county any of the money obtained from selling some of the materials.
The new vendor, ReCommunity Delaware, Inc., will give the county an 18 percent share of the âvalue of the streamâ of recycled material, Flanigan said. In addition, the company will give the county a grant of $26,000 a year to be used to promote recycling to citizens. And the firm will also handle document shredding for the county government and for community personal document shredding events at no cost to the county government.
The Delaware company, a subsidiary of a national operation that has been in business for decades, will take over the county recycling disposal operations on September 1, Flanigan said. The former contractor, a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc. that has done business with the county for at least five years, has been notified it will no longer have a contract with the county, he added.
Flanigan said the ReCommunity firm recently built a $17 million recyclables processing facility in Delaware, âabout 20 miles away,â and was able to give the county a good deal because transportation costs would be reasonable for such a relatively short distance.
The countyâs landfill operations are paid for out of âenterprise funds,â which means that users of the services are supposed to pay sufficient fees to cover costs so that other taxpayers who do not use the services do not have to subsidize the operations through general tax dollars.
Even though Waste Management did not charge the county for hauling the materials away, the county still had costs for facilities and employees who handle recycled materials– left by individual citizens and private trash collection and hauling companies– at the Central Landfill and the countyâs two trash transfer stations.
Flanigan estimated that overall revenues to the county from ReCommunity and fees paid by haulers and other users would amount to $68,000 per quarter, while expenses would amount to $61,104âa net gain of $7,776. (That figure did not include the separate grant to the county from ReCommunity.)
He said the excess funds should be used to reduce fees for the private haulers who provide the bulk of the materials being recycled as a way to encourage them to continue to do so instead of looking for cheaper sites in other counties or states. They would get a âcreditâ on their bills, he added. Under county law, private trash haulers are required to provide recycling pickup services to their local customers.
County officials estimate that about 30 percent of county households participate in recycling programs, and the ReCommunity grant is designed to support educational efforts to encourage more residents to recycle.
Individual county residents who bring their own recyclables to the landfill or trash stations currently have to pay $1 per load and that would not change under the new arrangements. County Executive Tari Moore had proposed raising that fee to $2 in her Fiscal 2014 budget, but the County Council rejected that and decided to keep that fee at $1.
âI want to commend the Department,â for researching alternatives and finding a better deal for the county, County Council President Robert Hodge (R-5) told Flanigan. âKeep up the great work.â
During his presentation, Flanigan noted that the biggest volume of recycled materialsâ22 percentâcomes from âcorrugated containers.â And newspapers constitute 15 percent of the trash stream to the blue recycling bins.
The latter figure must have inspired Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4) in her latest trash-talking at a worksession, pondering during the Council membersâ comments portion of the meeting, âwhat is a newspaperâ and âwhatâs the definition of a reporter.â
She was miffed that three reporters went along with Council members and other county officials â and sat in seats that would otherwise have been empty– on a Cecil Transit mini-bus that traveled to the Port of Baltimore for a tour and presentation by Maryland Port Administration officials. The Port is pushing to re-open a dredge spoil dumpsite in Earleville that a federal agency found had contaminated local drinking water wells. (Broomell did not attend the Port tour, saying she had to attend a funeral.)
As Broomell excitedly insisted that the County Council should âaddressâ her musings on how many reporters can dance on the seat of a mini-bus and the definition of âpropaganda,â Hodge gaveled her as out of order.
âDonât shut me down,â Broomell exclaimed. She then declared that âCecil Times and The Guardian are propaganda.â
Now, now, Councilor Broomell. Cecil Times does its bit for recyclingâsince we only publish online and do not generate paper waste at the landfill.
And the only propaganda weâve published lately is a Letter to the Editor from none other than Diana Broomell.