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Apartments on their own for trash service

James Rada
Thurmont Dispatch

(6/15)  When Herb Biser started renting out his apartments in the early 1980s, he paid for trash removal.

"We bought a dumpster," said Biser. "It cost us $152 and we paid for trash removal. Then it was assumed by the town."

At the time, Biser said trash removal didn't cost him that much. The town can't say the same. This year, the town it's estimating that trash removal will cost $371,700.

Trash removal for Thurmont's 221 apartments costs the town $19,147 and yields only $19,826 in property tax revenue to cover that cost along with other services paid for by property taxes. By contrast, a single-family home costs the town about $122 for garbage removal while generating $625 in tax revenue.

Because of the high cost of apartment trash removal, the Thurmont Town Commissioners have decided the town will stop collecting apartment trash as of July 1.

A letter signed by the commissioners on June 13, reads, "In some cases the Town spends more money removing trash from apartment complexes than it receives in tax revenues. The Town cannot afford to continue this arrangement and to impose the costs of collection from apartment complexes upon the other taxpayers."

In the case of the 19 units in Biser Apartments, the town collects about $940 in property taxes but pays $1,121 to collect the trash from the apartments, an annual loss of $181 to the town. Of the 13 apartment complexes in town, Thurmont loses money on seven of them because of trash collection costs.

The change in trash collection is part of the new "Solid Waste and Recyclable Material Collection" ordinance that the commissioners passed at the town meeting June 13.

One change in the ordinance is how the town will pick up bulk trash. Instead of once a week, it will become once or twice a month.

Commissioner Ron Terpko said during the discussion of the ordinance, "We're pretty much in line with most of the other municipalities in the county and actually we're still going to be one of the most lenient for bulk."

Commissioner Bill Blakeslee feels that reducing bulk trash pick up to once a month is too drastic and will encourage dumping. Unless he sees substantial economic savings from the move, he won't support going to once a month.

The town will get quotes to compare what once a month versus twice a month pick ups will cost.

Mayor Martin Burns said town residents have been "spoiled" with a lenient trash policy. "We're trying to run this like a business and be the most efficient with your tax dollars," he said.

"We were spoiled."

The other big change with trash collection is the institution of mandatory recycling for town residents. Newspaper/mixed paper, cardboard, metal cans, glass bottles and jars and plastic bottles will be picked up at the curb. Grass clippings picked up the town also fall under the mandatory recycling.

Violating the ordinance can cost up $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense, $250 for the third offense and $500 for each offense thereafter.

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