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Mayor's Report for May 2003

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DOING MORE TO SAVE THE TOWN MONEY

By Michael Herman

Yes, everyone it is Spring again. Yard work beckons and the cost of disposal can be staggering. Given the difficult fiscal situation, it is important that we all find ways to save the town money and protect the environment at the same time. By doing just a little more, the town can save tens of thousands of dollars annually, but the key to this is all of us working together.

Let's do a little math. If the average family put out 20 pounds of yard waste a week in a separate plastic bag or other container instead of putting it in the trash, it would reduce our landfill dumping by 40 tons a month. The town would save more than $1,000 per month in landfill charges since we pay half the amount to dispose of yard waste that we pay for landfill disposal. Carry that from April to November and the savings is more than $10,000 per year.

Let's talk a little more math. Let's talk about recyclables. As you are aware, the county provides curbside pick-up on Wednesdays of cans, bottles, plastics, and newspapers. You pay for this service on your county tax bill. Mixed paper recycling (cardboard, junk mail, etc.) is provided for by the town and it can be dropped off at the Public Works building every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. If each home recycled just five pounds more per week, the total savings to the town is more than $10,000 per year. At my house alone, I receive more than 15 pounds of junk mail and newspapers per week. Everyday, materials suitable for recycling are put out in the trash. Even in a town as small as ours, we could save the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars annually by being more conscious of our recycling. That's one police officer, one paved street, or a hundred trees for planting. Whatever your priority, wouldn't it be nice to pay for it with saved money?

We also have our annually spring clean-up on Monday, May 19. On that date, we get to dump at the landfill for free. Every full truck that gets to the landfill that day saves the town more than $350 in tipping fees. We would like to get at least ten to fifteen truckloads to the landfill on that date. Heavy trash, bulk trash and regular trash will be pick-up on May 19. No metal recycling or yard waste will be gathered that date. If you have been planning to clean out your basement, garage or attic, please do it the weekend before and put it out curbside the night before. Trash crews will start even earlier on that date to make sure the whole town is collected in time.

Next year, the town is expected to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in tax revenues. The exact figure is unknown at this time, but it will be staggering. For a town with an annual budget of $3.5 million, the impact is particularly harsh. These lost tax revenues come in the form of reduced aid to police, reduced highway user fund commitments, reduced income taxes, reduced grants for many purposes. The state budget gap over nearly $2 billion is taking its toll on county government as well as small municipalities around the state. Add to tax losses several properties in town that have come off the tax rolls or will soon come off the tax rolls due to acquisition by the University of Maryland (a tax-exempt public institution). As you can see, the fiscal year is going to be tough.

As the town prepares for the very difficult task of balancing a budget with state budget cuts and a weak national economy, we can do our part to save the taxpayers money. At the same time, you are also helping to keep our scarce environmental resources intact. Each and everyone of us can do more. So when you pitch that bottle in the trash can or put newspapers in the garbage, just imagine if all 6,500 people in our town did the same. Thanks for your cooperation and assistance.

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