Rising costs cited as County Council approves changes in rates
The county’s incinerator in Dickerson
The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a series of fee increases of between 4% and 12% for recycling, leaf and garbage collection services for single-family households.
Beginning July 1, households that receive all three solid waste pickup services from the county will see their bill increase from $373.10 to $416.42.
Partly responsible for the increase is a hike in the incremental systems benefit charge, which covers curbside recycling and yard waste collection. The fee has increased in recent years partly because of increased costs for recycling and composting, according to a council staff report.
Additionally, the county’s trash fee is increasing from $77 per household in the current fiscal year to $95 per household next year. The trash fee supports trash pickup services in locations where the county contracts with private sector haulers. The fee is calculated each year by dividing costs by the number of households receiving the pickup. This fee increased from $70 to $77 between 2018 and 2019. The increases are largely due to contract cost increases, the staff report stated.
Some neighborhoods in Montgomery County have private trash services that aren’t managed by the county and residents pay contractors for trash collection and individual lawn work to remove leaves.
County Executive Marc Elrich, who recommended the rate increases as part of his fiscal 2020 budget, has expressed a desire to close the county’s trash-burning incinerator in Dickerson, which processes 600,000 tons of waste per year and converts it into energy. Doing so would require that the county achieve a recycling rate of more than 80%, which is about 20% higher than the county’s current rate, county officials say.
Additionally, the county’s new environmental director, Adam Ortiz, said in a committee meeting that the county’s recycling center in Shady Grove doesn’t have the capacity to process the amount of materials being recycled, as it can process only 60 tons per day — about half of the amount of waste the county recycles. As a result, the county is spending $1 million a year to outsource recycling to a processing center in York, Pennsylvania.
During a council meeting Wednesday, Senior Legislative Analyst Keith Levchenko said collection cost increases were the main driver behind the rate hikes, and said it may continue.
“Given the collection cost increases, we may see some increases in the cost going forward,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org