Carroll County commissioners took the first step to back out of an agreement with Frederick County to build a waste-to-energy incinerator.
In 2009, the previous board of at McKinney Industrial Park in Frederick. The plant would burn trash to generate electricity for approximately 45,000 homes between the two counties.
The plan has the two counties sharing in the construction costs that are estimated at about $500 million, with Carroll County taking on about $200 million of that. Currently, Carroll County pays to haul much of its trash to Pennsylvania.
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If Carroll County backs out of the agreement, it could face a $3 million penalty. If both counties back out and drop the plan altogether, both counties would pay $1.5 million to cover money already spent on the project. But if a suitable replacement partner is found to take over Carroll County's commitment, Carroll County could conceivably walk away from the project with no penalty.
The commissioners agreed in Thursday's meeting to send a letter to Frederick County commissioners stating that Carroll County would like to explore alternative solid waste disposal options if they can do so without incurring a penalty. In addition, the Carroll County commissioners encouraged Frederick County commissioners to pursue any other parties who may be interested in partnering with Fredrick County on the incinerator project.
Commissioner Richard Rothschild said that part of the reason the commissioners have not made a decision on the incinerator in their first year and a half of office is because of the looming $3 million penalty Carroll could face if it backs out of the project.
"We could have easily made a political decision and just pulled the plug [on the agreement] but then the tax payers would be stuck with up to a $3 million penalty," Rothschild said. "We have chosen to not take the politically expedient route, we took a slower route to make decisions that would mitigate the likelihood that we would pay penalties."
In February of this year, the board of commissioners at to discuss waste options for Carroll County.
In March, Commissioner tasked with exploring solid waste disposal options for Carroll County. Howard said he asked the group to find options that are actually being used as opposed to "pie in the sky" ideas; that handle a significant portion of the waste stream, and are cost effective.
Solid Waste Work Group co-chairs Don West and Karen Leatherwood presented some of the group's initial findings to the board of carroll commissioners in Thursday's meeting. They said there are viable alternate options for Carroll County, most of which involve educating residents about the issue and incentivizing them to create less waste.
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