The Big Q: Should Harford County Government Take Over Residential Trash and Recycling Collection?

Against a backdrop of potential cost increases for trash disposal and recycling services, Harford County government is exploring whether to take over contracting for residential trash and recycling collection, a function that is now mostly accomplished by residents choosing their own service providers.

In support of the takeover, county officials point to inefficiencies under the current system where multiple providers may serve the same neighborhood, increasing truck traffic and fuel costs. They also argue that providers who have an edge in certain markets may skew pricing.

A presentation published on the county website suggests that if county government contracted for these services, uniform rates could be established county-wide, costs overall could come down as inefficiencies were reduced, and responsibility for monitoring would fall to the county. The presentation also suggests dividing the county into districts, allowing providers to bid for contracts in one or more districts for multi-year contracts. One slide in the presentation asks: Would there be interest if trash collection costs (2013 dollars) would be around $75/quarter for everyone?

Would residents benefit if Harford County government took over contracting for residential trash and recycling collection?

Comments

  1. Miss Gulch says

    No, i would rather keep it the way it is and work on the issues identified. Im not interested in seeing our county government take over another office,orgaization or service. They are too big as it is and i would like to see our county givernment downsize.

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  2. Lance from Hickory says

    This county government (at the top) is a waste as it is. They can’t even pay current employees proper wages as they claim it costs too much. Yet they find money for loans to large company’s that will never be paid back. How about hiring assistants for the county council members, but again no money for raises. Huh ok

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  3. Five Iron says

    Once you give a company a monopoly in anything, they will rake the public over the coals. Dulles Greenway is a prime example. Chicago outsourced their parking meters, pretty shortly after that, meter costs went up over 400% and fines were outrageous. Hell, I’m still waiting for Comcast/FIOS to put internet to every house like they promised. You live in a rural area of this county, you get ripped off.

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  4. bob says

    Government does not know how to be efficient. If the county over the years had developed a plan for the county’s waste, contractor would not be hauling it to Baltimore County, which increases costs.
    Also, the two plus decades of hauling recyclables to faraway places could have been changed with some leadership from the County Executive.

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  5. BRAC Family says

    Absolutely not. As a former NJ resident whose town employees collected the trash (every town handled their own trash collection) our property taxes were significantly higher for comparable homes. That was partly attributable to this kind of service being handled by town employees, and having to pay the related health care, benefits, pension, etc., costs. Now I’ll be honest, there are many reasons why I like NJ better than MD, but property taxes on our home is not one of them. Keep it the way it is: cheap.

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  6. public utilities have a purpose says

    Sorry to pop your bubble: the idea that only government can be wasteful is nonsensical boosterism. Any bureaucracy, including corporate bureaucracy, can be wasteful. Sometimes collective action is more efficient, and it should be considered.

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  7. Steve jacobs says

    The same county that acquired a helicopter, two pilots and maintenance personnel? The same county that cuts it’s own grass and does highway repair? It should all be privatized. The county govt is extremely wasteful. Most of them are f*cking idiots…they really are.

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    • Otto Schmidlap says

      Would you talk like you write if your parents and grandparents were listening?

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    • Jim in Hickory says

      The county could buy a fleet of half million dollar trash trucks all manned by 4 people making $50,000 /’ year with benefits.

      Geez they could fire half the nitwits that walk around all day doing nothing at Scarboro now and not miss a one of them. And what happened to the dating duo caught stealing services at the dump? Rumor has it they were rehired and given their back pay.

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    • Dumb fighter says

      Wrong thread buddy…. And WRONG info. County didn’t acquire pilots or maintenance personnel. They already worked for hcso

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      • Ralph says

        Why did the Sheriff’s Office already hire helicopter pilots and helicopter maintenance personnel before ever getting a helicopter?

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        • BillH says

          Because that is cost effective. They also have a brain surgeon on staff in case some one is hired that has a brain…..

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  8. Kenneth Kolarik says

    I think the county should pick up the trash. I think the cost should be included in our property taxes.

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    • No thanks says

      I don’t have trash pickup and I don’t want it. My family doesn’t produce much and we don’t want to pay for weekly pickup. I don’t think it’s fair to force trash pickup on everyone. If we could pay per trash bag (which would promote recycling) I would be for it. Just another “service” we don’t want

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  9. says

    Yes, it would be better organized, and probably less expensive. I have lived in several places where it was done this way, and it worked extremely well. Anne Arundel County does it, and it was parceled out by sections when I lived there.

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  10. Somebody says

    Yes, government services have the reputation of being inefficient, sometimes this is true, and sometimes it isn’t. One thing to consider however is that whatever money is wasted through inefficiencey pales in comparison to what the taxpayers would shell out to corporate profits. I am actually quite pleased with the services the county does provide, I have never had issue with our roads, our water and sewer, and our parks. If you have an issue with a public service,you make a 5 minute phone call, the steps to the solution are then strated to execute. Try getting that kind of service from a private company.

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    • Correct me if I am wrong says

      Somebody,

      “pales in comparison to what the taxpayers would shell out to corporate profits” – That is a nice emotional statement but has no basis in fact and cannot be supported by any contortion of logic.

      “you make a 5 minute phone call, the steps to the solution are then strated to execute” – if you limit this description to a couple three services they are not false in every instance – but these few services are a fraction of government and with all the others I doubt if you could get the right person in 5 minutes.

      The waste in government is legion while private businesses simply go bankrupt if too expensive or lack proper service.

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      • I am correcting you because you are wrong again says

        I am sure cable services, utility companies and some shipping services rank highly. I must have missed that going out of business sale.

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        • Correct me if I am wrong says

          too uniformed to comment,

          Yes you did miss the going out of business sale of Adelphia Cable in 2002, right up here in PA (how do you feel not knowing that?). FIOS has put a hurt on Comcast pricing but because FIOS is the premium cable their pricing is high (yet too look at what they provide – I have it myself). But, Netflix is on the march and competition is very high in those areas, so what are you thinking.

          Shipping? Good grief, probably one of the cheapest and most competitive areas I know. If it weren’t for the Post Office being government, UPS and FedEX would have put them out of business – but this is perhaps the one area that government actually improved because of the private sector.

          And as for the utilities, you are too funny. I suggest you do yourself a favor and look up the Public Service Commission and its control over utilities.

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          • Five Iron says

            Don’t use Adelphia, they went out of business as the CEO and his son ripped off the company and used it as their personal piggybank. Outside of crime/convictions, none of those others will ever go out of business. You must not read a lot of Tech news as I can tell you that Netflix is constantly complaining about being “throttled” with their internet downloads, hence Comcast, ATT, FIOS and the rest will take Netflix money but won’t truly allow them to compete. As for the USPS, FedEx and UPS are great if you are in their metro servicing area’s but all of those corporate entities will not deliver to many rural locations and rely on the USPS for last mile delivery. Nothing wrong with government providing trash service. They could, however, make it faster and cheaper by using the trucks with arms to pick up pre-set size trash bins. Many countries use them, reduced personnel (and costs) and provide better service. 1 person per truck, never needs to get out. Higher upfront cost, but cheaper as an investment for the long term for the taxpayer.

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      • Greg says

        Not true about private business. They work real hard to become oligopolies, create barriers to completion, buy their competition so they dont have to compete and can charge what they want. Look at your cable bill, cell bill, internet service, food costs, and a host of other services and products. They buy legislators to get subsidies and tax breaks. Capitalism relies on completion to minimize costs. We frequently dont have competition.

        To minimize trash pick up costs the county publishes a competitive solicitation for county trash pick up. Low bidder wins. Contract is re solicited every couple years. This will produce lowest costs. Private sector provides service, stops at every house, minimizes fuel and labor costs. Size of contract attracts bidders with sharp pencils. Right now same bidders have to charge more because of higher costs. They also charge more per customer because the loss of one customer doesnt mean much.

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  11. I am not wrong says

    F,

    I wasn’t aware that you are the default judge on what references can be used – companies go under from mismanaging in a lot of ways. The Adelphia references stands whether you like it or not. Besides, bankruptcy was mentioned because numb-nuts suggested there weren’t any.

    The issue brought up was: “inefficiencey pales in comparison to what the taxpayers would shell out to corporate profits” – in that regard cable and shipping are fairly competitive and you get quite a bit for your money. So, who said they might go out of business? If they were inefficient they would. Any suggestion that you get more for your money from government just does not understand.

    It is beyond the pale to suggest that you pay more in the private sector for goods and services because of profits. You pay tons more if government does anything because it is a bureaucratic nightmare, there are more people doing the same job and those people are paid more because of pensions and Cadillac medical care.

    The last time I checked I never saw quite of few people dying because a private hospital kept changing dates on patients – and those same private hospitals have to give care to people who cannot pay. Government run VA is what a government run system is. Sure, the Social Security checks go out because the system is automated – but also quite a few fraud checks go out with them. The food stamp program has billions in fraud – as well as a host of other programs. To suggest that the government gives a good bang for the buck is ludicrous.

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    • yes you are says

      Free market solution – I you don’t like it here, then sell and live somewhere else.

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  12. Volunteer mom says

    Why does this state and govt want to shut down all of the competitive small business markets!!! Tell us who we use for healthcare, what doctors we see, what foods we eat, how to raise our kids and now who can pick up our garbage?? And each of these things always come with a bigger price tag that benefits only the local state/govt offices! Enough with state regulating everything we do!! I am from NY and believe me…this is one more excuse they will give to raise taxes over and over again! I guess They aren’t collecting enough through their new rain tax, so let’s see where else we can get money! Someone needs to start doing their research of states such as NY & NJ and see the increases they have had over the past 50 yrs. Research and learn! It’s ugly!!

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  13. Miss Gulch says

    Absolutely spot on. While I am from Bel Air originally, I lived in northwest New Jersey for a few years. The taxes there were astronomical and to tell you the truth, I really didn’t see where all the money was going. Except, we did have a state of the art trash collection and recycling program with the shiny new trucks and lots of workers.
    As I said earlier, I really don’t think this is a good idea. It is not in the best interest of Harford County citizens. Our local government has been spending the last ten years or so steadily taking over private organizations, offices and other direct services. There are numerous examples, including the office on housing, substance abuse/ now the office on drug control policy, children’s services, volunteer fire, and now possibly trash. Don’t forget they control and manage our water. I think it is a very dangerous thing for our government to be aspiring to such empire-building.
    Does anyone recall the county wanting to locate a new trash dump in the Joppatowne area?

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    • Dudebobski says

      It was not a trash dump it was a transfer station and it should be in Harford county. Why do we think it is okay to push our trash on other people? If it had to stay right here it would make us think twice about our individual actions and conservation at home.

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  14. MUFFMOUTHSKI says

    More county pensions, union salary & benefits, and more democrat voters –

    no thanks

    I will pay for my own trash collection and you pay for yours!

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  15. RUKidding says

    Just something else for the county to screw-up! The county administration needs to clean up their own trash first and recycle it. Thanks but no thanks, I’ll pay for my own trash collection.

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  16. FreedomFighter says

    YES AND NO. The comments are excellent proud of dagger readers for once.

    Government should threaten and begin takeover and see how private enterprise reacts. If they adapt and the gov determines they’re correcting the action… YES. If they’re shown to be more incompetent… NO.

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  17. Steve B says

    Absolutely NOT!!
    Let’s call it exactly what it will be..another tax on the people.
    It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, enough is enough.
    We are taxed to death

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  18. Jarrettsville mom says

    While I agree that trash pickup should remain as it is I would like to know who is providing the money for the solicitation call I received last night asking for my email address so that I might be sent a form letter to send forward to the county council.
    For heavens sake this is Harford County where we see our reps out there on an almost daily basis, Where they are out and about the community they serve. I am more upset about this call than the actual debate. Don’t waste my quarterly trash payment on this rubbish please!
    Cutting out small business will be the demise of this county as it has been the demist of the state and country. I thought this administration was all about helping and lifting up small business. I say let it stay as it is

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  19. MIKE JONES says

    Ok first of all as someone who has been in the business for 30 years, it wont be county employees the work will still be done by a contractor, the county will monitor and administer it. Prices should fall since the county controls the landfill and associated costs with dumping. We used to have a very low trash removal cost in our county until Eileen Rehrmann raised the landfill fees over 500 percent in her tenure as our county executive ( democrats raise taxes republicans call them fees, its the same thing). Plus having only a few contractors permitted to operate trash removal in our county handicaps competition. The biggest drawback is the county exective when then have his or her term of contributions as they force the collectors to make large donations to there respective cause. Baltimore county extorts money from the collectors now under the guise of donations with a veiled threat of taking away the contract. So in ending either way there are pitfalls, with the county controlling it and answerable to the voters it should cause our (residents) some price relief. But it will make the heads of government even more susceptible to corruption then they currently already are (ie: David Craig )

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    • BillH says

      Those guys on the town of Bel Air trucks are contractors?

      Who knew, thanks for the insight.

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      • hazzard county says

        Trash pick up works better in the municipalities and the private contractor’s record of service is less than acceptable in many HOA associations that I know about. Most contractors have increased prices and reduced pick up times to 2 times a week as 1 day for recycle and 1 day for regular. I don’t think most private contractors include bulk pick up and at least Bel Air does by appointment and no extra charge from what I know. My private contractor will sometimes forget to pick up our court and comeback two days later because the HOA called to complain. The City of Bel Air will let you know if trash days are changed ahead of time due to holidays or special circumstances. Having said all that though, I don’t think trash pick up has been such a problem that the local govt needs messing with it and it would probably lead to corruption and favoritism as well as a new pool of contractors ripping of the tax payers. Most people do not think trash pick up is an issue that needs further administration from the local govt.

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  20. Jennifer Reed says

    I sought out an excellent privately owned trash company because the one that services the majority of the county was so horrible- leaving my trash cans in the middle of my driveway so I couldn’t pull in, sometimes not even showing up to take my trash and raising their rates. I do not want a county run trash service.

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  21. CBS says

    Unfortunately we don’t have any competition in my neighborhood, which means Waste Industries charges us a lot more than other areas. I’m happy that Harford County is willing to take this over. They do a fine job on snow removal, why not trash. Plus it will save me over $25 per quarter. Waste Industries actually sent me an email asking me to petition this cause. I don’t think so! I’m sending HC a letter now supporting the government plan. I should thank Waste Industries for bringing this to my attention. I’m a single guy who probably throws out 1 full trash can each month and I have to pay over 100 each quarter. No thank you.

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  22. mostly blue says

    the county isn’t going to pick up your trash. a contractor still will be collecting it and charging you for it. free Your taxes can’t even pay teachers and employees since the county spends it on new libraries, schools and empty prisons. I hear that Glassman has major plans in place once he becomes the CE. All new deputy directors once approved in the referendum will be major donors to his campaign. He might keep a few experienced dept heads for the first year and then his lackeys will run the county into the ground, a few TP members are close to him as well which then will make these anti-govt folks new govt employees. We’ll see how they feel about getting no raises once they are the ones being paid by the county. Oh, don’t worry, I am not a dept head or a deputy director since I am not good at sucking it.

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  23. mostly blue says

    5 year countdown to my retirement will a golden watch, 2300 hours paid at retirement and county paid health care. Didn’t make a whole lot of $$$ but my payoff is coming when I retire will a fully vested pension If I file for disability benefits I will actually get more $$$ but that would be dishonest and that’s now what I do.

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    • Another trillion or two says

      B,

      How many more years are you going to live? Think it’s all going to be there? Think Maryland isn’t going to suffer the same problems of other blue states regarding government pensions?

      Those are rhetorical questions – but, after your generation is no longer a collection of useful idiots, ask yourself if they will not turn on you with the contempt you have held others? What have the democrat run cities really done for the inner city minorities? What are they really doing for the teachers with runaway admins, zero tolerance and Common Core? Again, rhetorical.

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      • mostly blue says

        trillion,

        I don’t know how long I am going to live, do you? I wouldn’t post such obnoxious comments regarding my future retirement nor would I divulge my personal financial information. don’t be a puppet to these clowns on the dagger!! Either way and at the same time don’t begrudge anyone from getting a pension or getting ahead in life. I certainly have friends that are much better off than me and I don’t question if there is going to be enough money to cover their pensions nor do I think about how much longer they are going to live. Trillion, don’t lose your manners or humanity in all these political games. Even if the pensions were to get cut as they have in Detroit, they haven’t been defunded nor would they be cut as you would wish it to be. Some plans are better funded than others and I just hope that our plan remains viable without it being a hardship on the taxpayer. As long as the local government provides the basic services mandated by law and the tax payer pays their share of the cost, then everything should work out as best as it can.

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    • mostly blue says

      I didn’t write the above post. I certainly wouldn’t ever post my own personal information for consumption in a public forum. I don’t have that kind of time in employment to account for 2300 hundred hours nor would I ever file a false claim for disability benefits!!! I get that some of you don’t like my political opinions but at least don’t post under my name, mostly blue and pretend that you are me. Many of you know that I work for the county and this is my 2nd career so I haven’t been with the county for decades and I am way more that 5 years away from retirement. I won’t be getting a golden parachute, watch or county paid health insurance as I won’t be working for another 20 years to meet that goal. Please post as someone else and don’t use my dagger name?

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  24. Miss Gulch says

    Regardless, they really do need to clean house with current department heads and a few deputy directors. The first place they need to start is Community Services. From the top down to a few of the mid managers. Disgusting behavior.

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    • mostly blah says

      Mostly is an entitled govt worker on the dole and backpocket picker of taxpayers. Hope you have an early in demise and go away. Tea party gonna take over with real CE to clean house.

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  25. Lisa says

    No. Definitely no. I’m tired of government ordering my life and forcing me to accept choices I do not want. I am more than satisfied with my provider and have no wish to change

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  26. Niki02 says

    I vote no. As a senior citizen, I pay about $55 per quarter and that includes recyclables. We need the companies to compete to help keep the pricing at a decent level.

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  27. Niki02 says

    What I didn’t see in the article was why the potential increase in costs? Can someone fill me in please?

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  28. Withheld says

    Only for your consideration. I currently have a “small” business collecting my trash. It is in a large green can in front of my house and has been since Wed am, that is the day it was to be collected. This is the third time this company has failed to take care of my trash. I used the small business named Alley Cats before this, and they disappeared and were purchased (?) by Waste Industries. If you are concerned about small businesses….this may not be a good example. Most (not all) trash businesses in this county, can be tracked back to Waste Industries. So we are not really talking about a nice family that collect your trash each morning wearing overalls, and know your name. We are talking about a large company in most instances, that charges more per quarter than the 75.00 dollars discussed.

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  29. BOB ARMSTRONG says

    BOTTOM LINE HERE. Above it was mentioned the cost per home under government take over of trash removal would be 75.00.

    I am paying my bills and was taken aback by the 94.95 charge per quarter for my service. I shopped around and found a new contractor in the area offering the same service including containers to put the trash in for 69.00. Still below the county estimate, and I bet this includes a profit as well.

    If you think the service you get is too expensive, shop around.

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