Montgomery Count residents protest new dumping fee

WASHINGTON — Under a new regulation, Montgomery County residents will pay the same fee that contractors do when dropping off large amounts of yard waste at the local dump — or, as they prefer to call it in Montgomery County, the “transfer station.”

The fee was expanded to include homeowners as of July 1.

Montgomery County resident Gary McDonald says expanding the fee to homeowners could discourage the recycling that the county wants to foster.

Peter Karasik, the section chief of central operations at the Division of Solid Waste Services, says the decision to expand the fee to everyone, and to base it on weight alone, came about after staffers at the transfer station noticed that contractors, knowing they had more than the 500 pounds of yard waste allowed, would commonly remove any identifying markings on their trucks in order to make it look like they were residents, who are allowed to dump an unlimited amount of yard waste.

Karasik says that led to plenty of hassles for everyone.

“There were a lot of conflicts trying to distinguish who was a resident and who was a contractor.”

So Karasik says basing the charge on weight alone seemed most fair.

McDonald says he disagrees. The Silver Spring homeowner says it would be simple to distinguish between homeowners and contractors if the county instituted a residential sticker or pass system. Residents could affix a sticker to their cars, or have a pass, similar to what might be required at a pool or recreation center.

Karasik’s not so sure, claiming it would cause a bureaucratic nightmare.

“Well, there’s the regular turnover in the county — it would be a huge administrative job to make sure that every one of the residences in the county all have a current sticker for using the transfer station,” he says.

He adds that it would have to be switched out every time someone moved, a particularly problematic issue for rental properties.

McDonald says it’s not the amount of the fee that irks him — $46 a ton, pro-rated for actual weight — but that by instituting a charge for something that used to be free, the county could be working against its own efforts to get residents to recycle on a large scale.

His other complaint: Large loads must be dropped off when the transfer station is operating its weigh station, Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. McDonald says that leaves residents who work Monday through Friday just Saturday to get their large materials together for dropoff.

See the county policy on dropoffs at the transfer station on the Montgomery County website.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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