DENTON — Caroline and Queen Anne’s county commissioners are exploring an agreement that would leave the Mid-Shore Regional Landfill in Caroline County until 2050 with Queen Anne’s skipping its turn as host in return for financial compensation.
The MidShore Regional Solid Waste System consists of four planned facilities to serve the solid waste needs of Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties for 80 years. This unique partnership is the only regional solid waste management agreement in Maryland, according to Maryland Environmental Service, which owns and operates the landfills.
Under the agreement, each county was to host the operating landfill for 20 years. Talbot County hosted the first regional landfill from 1991 to 2010. The Caroline County landfill began full-scale operation in January 2011 and will continue until 2030. Queen Anne’s County is supposed to be the next host. The final 20 years would go to Kent.
Caroline County Administrator Jeremy Goldman told commissioners that Queen Anne’s officials had not started the permitting process to open the next landfill and had expressed interest in the possibility of Caroline continuing as host.
In an Aug. 20 letter, Caroline Commission President Larry Porter told Queen Anne’s County Commission President Jim Moran that Caroline would require payment beginning in the next fiscal year and continuing for a minimum of 20 years.
“While the Commissioners of Caroline County acknowledge that there are several other significant negotiation points that must be agreed upon, the Commissioners were in agreement that these two points are nonnegotiable and felt there was no point in delaying the permitting process in Queen Anne’s County, if these requirements would, or could not be met,” Porter wrote.
Moran replied in a Sept. 22 letter, “The Commissioners of Queen Anne’s County appreciate the opportunity to work on a mutually acceptable arrangement that would allow the Regional Landfill to remain and continue operations in Caroline County until approximately 2050. We strongly believe that every option to fully utilize this regional public asset must be carefully examined as a matter of responsible public policy.”
Moran accepted the conditions Porter set and said he looked forward to further conversations to determine more specific terms.
Goldman asked the Caroline Commissioners for guidance on continued negotiations at the Sept. 29 meeting. One number that had been mentioned was $1 million a year, he said, which would amount to about 4 cents on residents’ property tax rates.
Goldman said he was working on an end-of-the-year timeline, which is when QA would be required to begin the permitting process, “This is a can that can no longer be kicked down the road.”
Porter said he didn’t want to be rushed into anything. He said there were commitments and promises made and people needed to be made aware of what they were doing.
“Will we raise revenues, yes, but at what cost?” Porter asked. “We won’t go back on our commitments. We’re going to look at what the taxpayers want.”
The offer of $1 million annually didn’t impress commissioners.
Commissioner Dan Franklin said, “The million a year is low on my end.”
Commissioner Wilbur Levengood concurred, “A million a year isn’t going to get it.”
The commissioners wanted to know what kind of costs they would be looking at to continue hosting the landfill and wanted feedback from the public.
Goldman said they also needed to include MES and the other partners in discussions.