The Frederick County Commissioners may replace a controversial trash franchising plan with a new proposal to license trash haulers.

As the commissioners culled their list of 2009 state legislative priorities Tuesday morning, they opted not to vote about moving forward on franchising.

They will discuss licensing as an alternative at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 6.

County officials had touted the franchising bill as a tool to increase recycling because it would allow them to make curbside pickup mandatory in trash collection contracts.

Only 54,000 households now get curbside recycling. That service is provided by the county.

The franchising bill failed last April in the Maryland General Assembly, when trash haulers objected and Frederick County Sen. Alex Mooney, a Republican, refused to support it.

The bill would have given the county the authority to arrange area trash hauling contracts instead of letting residents individually choose haulers.

Licensing haulers could have the same effect, by requiring curbside pickup as a condition of getting a license from the county.

Commissioner Kai Hagen announced Tuesday that he will oppose franchising, sparking interest in the licensing alternative.

He decided to oppose the franchising legislation, he said, because he believes the county could increase its recycling programs with the powers it has now.

He suggested requiring haulers to offer three different rates based on the volume of trash residents put on the curb. The county would not set the rates, but he thinks giving residents a discount for reducing their trash would make people recycle more.

Franchising would affect more than just recycling.

Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. has said that fuel savings alone would make franchising worth it.

Instead of large trash trucks driving all over the county, with several trucks in each neighborhood, franchising would allow haulers to concentrate in one area and save gas.

The franchising, licensing and other recycling proposals come as the county confronts a crisis in waste disposal. The county landfill's capacity will be fully exhausted in less than six years if all local trash is sent to it.

The county sends much of its trash to a landfill in Virginia, but the commissioners hope to reduce shipping costs by finding a local place for disposal.

They are considering building a $325 million trash incinerator, but opponents argue increased recycling, composting and diversion is a better option.

AT A GLANCE

The commissioners made the following decisions about recycling and waste disposal proposals discussed Tuesday: THEY WILL SUPPORT:

A mandatory bottle deposit and return system; the vote was 4-1, with Commissioner Charles Jenkins opposed because he believes it would add cost to consumers and businesses, while reducing the amount of goods recycled through the curbside recycling program, he said.

A pharmaceutical takeback program in which pharmacies accept unused medicines for proper disposal; that passed 4-1, with Jenkins opposed because he wants more information.

A position statement in favor of banning plastic bags; that passed 4-1, with Jenkins opposed.

THEY WILL NOT SUPPORT:

A proposal for a state requirement that they follow county zoning regulations when building waste disposal facilities; no formal vote.

A tax on bottles to pay for recycling programs; the vote was 2-3, with Thompson and David Gray in favor; Commissioner Jan Gardner voted against it, and said it had no chance of passing in Annapolis; Jenkins and Hagen also voted against it.

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