SNOW HILL — Higher tipping fees and an increase in the cost of landfill use permits were put on the table Tuesday, as the Worcester County Commissioners continue to look for ways to make their new budget work.
The commissioners heard arguments from Jennifer Savage, county enterprise fund controller, in support for raising the cost of
household transfer station permits to $100 for up to two vehicles per household. She also advocated increasing municipal and commercial tipping fees would increase by $5 per ton.
“Solid waste just doesn’t have that stream to take the revenue from,” she said. “We were trying not to increase them but we don’t have any other choice.”
The commissioners initially objected to the increased costs of permits. According to them a price increase would only encourage more illegal dumping. Their first notion was to bill the entire amount to the municipalities and private businesses, making the costs increase by $40 instead of the proposed $5.
Savage balked at the suggestion, pointing out that even at the proposed $100, for permits the transfer stations would still be subsidized by the tipping fee profits. She said it wouldn’t be an equitable distribution of the financial burden.
“It’s a matter of either reducing services or increasing revenue,” she said. “We are by far providing the most services at the least cost and it’s not sustainable.”
Several commissioners said that cutting hours and reducing services also were not acceptable solutions.
The commissioners will discuss other possible solutions at their public budget work session May 25. If they are unable to reach a consensus at that meeting, another will be scheduled for May 31.
The public hearing on the solid waste fee budget changes will be held June 7 meeting.
The commissioners also elected not to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Maryland State Highway Administration that accepted the Maryland Route 589 Corridor Feasibility Study until after a public hearing on the plan.
The public hearing date will be set once the letter is amended to clarify which governmental body must perform which actions. Since the work will require a text amendment and background mapping to protect the corridor right-of-way and must be subject to a public hearing, the commissioners elected to wait before committing to the plan.
“There’s a considerable amount of work that needs to be done,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Shannahan. He said that June would be the earliest the county could schedule a public hearing, but indicated that it might be later.
Putting off signing the memorandum, Shannahan said, wouldn’t jeopardize or delay the project.
In other business, the commissioners denied a request from a Berlin resident who wanted a five-week extension to clear debris of a demolished structure at the corner of Bishopville and St. Martins Neck Roads.
James Ryan Bergey, who has been cited for nearly a year over the dilapidated building, had the building torn down and asked that the Bishopville Fire Department burn it. State law prohibits burning demolished buildings.
Bergey asked for the extension because he was to be away on business for an extended period and wouldn’t be able to haul the debris away.
Citing the fact that Bergey could have engaged someone long ago to clear out the debris, the commissioners denied the request and ordered the nuisance abatement enacted.
The commissioners similarly issued nuisance abatement on the property at the corner of Routes 589 and 707. According to Director of Development Review and Permitting Ed Tudor the owners have already committed to have the property cleaned up within a week. Tudor said he sought the order so the county had enforcement measures ready should the owner fail to complete the work.
Worcester County Health Officer Debbie Goeller received approval from the commissioners to use state funding to engage in a contract with Trilogy Integrated Resources for the Network of Care for Healthy Communities.
The program allows residents, through the health department website, to become greater participants in their medical care and planning.
“It is a very powerful tool for county residents to get health information,” she said.
Nearly 116,000 user sessions were recorded last year, according to Goeller.