Cecil County Council Talks Trash, and Not Just Garbage

July 2, 2013

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 panel’s meetings, and Tuesday’s worksession was no exception. But at least some of the talk by another county official will turn trash into gold.

Scott Flanigan, the county’s Director of Public Works, told the Council that a new contractor had proposed paying the county for handling recycling of paper, metals, cans, etc.—instead of the current contractor’s “zero-zero” approach that takes the recyclables at no cost to the county but also doesn’t 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 “value of the stream” 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, “about 20 miles away,” and was able to give the county a good deal because transportation costs would be reasonable for such a relatively short distance.

The county’s landfill operations are paid for out of “enterprise funds,” 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 county’s 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 $61,104—a 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 ‘credit’ 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.

“I want to commend the Department,” for researching alternatives and finding a better deal for the county, County Council President Robert Hodge (R-5) told Flanigan. “Keep up the great work.”

During his presentation, Flanigan noted that the biggest volume of recycled materials—22 percent—comes from “corrugated containers.” 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 members’ comments portion of the meeting, “what is a newspaper” and “what’s the definition of a reporter.”

She was miffed that three reporters went along with Council members and other county officials – 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 “address” her musings on how many reporters can dance on the seat of a mini-bus and the definition of “propaganda,” Hodge gaveled her as out of order.

“Don’t shut me down,” Broomell exclaimed. She then declared that “Cecil Times and The Guardian are propaganda.”

Now, now, Councilor Broomell. Cecil Times does its bit for recycling—since we only publish online and do not generate paper waste at the landfill.

And the only propaganda we’ve published lately is a Letter to the Editor from none other than Diana Broomell.

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4 Responses to Cecil County Council Talks Trash, and Not Just Garbage

  1. Ron on July 3, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I would like to suggest that Councilman Hodge gives fair warning in public at the beginning of council meetings that any council member who lashes out against citizens, citizen groups or against anyone who is in attendance at a council meeting, will be immediately escorted from the Elk Room. This kind of warning will take some intestinal fortitude on the part of the council president, but it is his job to bring these meetings under control.

    Broomell, in another one of her immature tirades, continues to turn these meetings into a circus of sorts where she assumes the part of ring master. Maybe if she were shamed (if that is even possible) into behaving herself, we can bring some sort of civility back into the council sessions.

    Ever since Broomell lost her power as ring leader over the ( in control ) 3 Amigos, she has continually sought attention by dominating the council sessions through grandstanding. I think it is high time that the Council President took this bull by the horns and brought things back under control. This is one of the main reasons why he was re-elected.

  2. Al Reasin on July 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Neither Councilperson Broomell or Dunn attended the Baltimore port tour. Citizens could have gone as well. So defying all logic, Mrs. Broomell criticizes the media that did attend.

    If I was a councilperson and did not attend such an important informational tour, I would have kept my mouth shut so as not to expose my failure to do my job to its fullest. Granted the council position is not a full time job, but if you are not willing to do what is necessary to serve the people, then one should not seek the position or continue to represent the people of Cecil County.

    Councilmen Mr. Hodge and Dr. McCarthy, agree with their positions or not, have to be respected since even though they have many business interests which occupy much of their time still managed to make the time to take the tour.

    Mrs. Broomell wanted the definition of reporter and newspaper in her “comments” I video the council meetings and blog; there is an ongoing discussion within the media and legal circles as to what is a reporter and if bloggers have the same 1st Amendment right as does the “press” and thus the same legal protections. So, Mrs. Broomell is on thin ice with her challenge to define who is a reporter.

  3. Joe C on July 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    This is a great deal for the county but not the rate payer. Just look at the quote from Exec. Moore ” this is a great deal for the county”. I guess she has forgotten about the rate payer and taxpayer and only uses them to fund the “Big Government” machine known as Charter. Let’s remember charter was suppose to be cheaper–now there is a laugh!

    Why not share some of the windfall with the homeowners who bring their recyclables to the landfill. This would be easy since you are being tracked by “big brother” each time you go to the landfill. This is why they scan your license. Come on Tari, share some of the crumbs from your feast you are having with your big donors. Just watch who benefits from the second sewer hookup fee reduction, the names will be very familiar. When do the rate payers get secret meetings to reduce what we pay? When will the rate payer get a no public hearing to fast track a resolution to lower our rates? Never!

  4. Jackie Gregory on July 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Joe C– From the article: “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 ‘credit’ on their bills, he added. Under county law, private trash haulers are required to provide recycling pickup services to their local customers.”

    Most citizens recycle through their waste collection agency. When those agencies were mandated to provide recycling services, they incurred new fees which were passed on to consumers. When their fees are reduced, their savings should be passed along to consumers in their quarterly bills.

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