Bottles and cans might soon have to cover less distance to land in a recycling bin near Brunswick or Thurmont.
The Board of County Commissioners decided Thursday to continue and possibly expand the county's municipal recycling program. Middletown, Walkersville and Emmitsburg each have the recycling drop-off sites, and under the pilot program, have received county dollars to reimburse them for running the centers. Commissioners on Thursday unanimously opted to make the recycling incentive program permanent and set aside $50,000 to fund the current sites and support Brunswick and Thurmont if they join the program.
"This is a program we started. It's been very, very popular. So this is to take it to another level," Commissioners President Blaine Young said.
The fiscal 2014 funding levels represent a reduction from last year, when the program was budgeted for up to $100,000. However, Phillip Harris, the county's superintendent of solid waste management, said the three participating municipalities together used only about $12,300 of the available funds.
On Thursday, officials changed the county's method for doling out program dollars. During the pilot program, the incentives were based on the municipal population. Going forward, participants will submit their expenses to the county for a reimbursement of up to $10,000 each year, said Kevin Demosky, the county's director of utilities and solid waste management.
Karin Tome, Brunswick's mayor, said city officials are in preliminary discussions about joining the county's recycling incentive program. Though the city already offers a drop-off center, teaming up with the county would make the site available to residents and businesses in Rosemont and other surrounding areas, she said.
"I would like to see as many opportunities for recycling as possible," Tome said.
In 2011, the county closed its residential recycling drop-off centers, Demosky said. Officials determined there was no need for the 11 satellite centers after the county started offering curbside recycling pickup.
However, Demosky said some people were upset by the lack of recycling centers, leading the county in July 2012 to launch its pilot program for municipalities.
Walkersville Town Commissioner Chad Weddle said the program has seemed to work well in his town. Most residents use the county's curbside pickup service, but those who live in condominiums appreciate the drop-off center, he said.
Weddle said he suspects that the county reimbursements haven't completely covered Walkersville's cost to run the centers. Crunching the numbers for the program's first full year will help show town leaders if it is working well, he said.
Brunswick and Thurmont leaders would have to sign an agreement with the county to open drop-off centers in their municipalities, Demosky said. Other municipalities could join the program in the future, but the county commissioners would have to give their approval, Demosky said.
Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.