Hancock council considers getting back in the trash business

by Geoff Fox

Apple Valley Trash has been picking up Hancock residents’ trash each week, but the company is not under contract to the town, council members said last week.

Mayor Tim Smith said the town has been paying the company as they come pick up the trash.

The town has been notified Apple Valley is going to be raising their rates again. Smith said he is at the point where he would like to put the service back out to bid from other trash companies or, looking at the numbers, rehabilitate the town’s trash truck and restart the town’s trash service.

Kerns pointed out that the town is charging residents to have a company haul the trash to Hagerstown. Councilman Roland Lanehart, Jr. said the county charges the town a tipping fee as well.

Kerns said there should be a discussion with the county and see if Hancock is the only town with a transfer station located within the town limits.

If the station is the town’s property, why couldn’t the town have a dumpster on the property for local trash, council members asked.

Kerns said it might be worth the town having dumpsters at the station and charging residents to take their trash there and town officials would have to get creative with how to do the trash pick-ups.

If the town were to handle their own trash service, Smith suggested Public Works could drive the truck and have three or four inmates pick up residential cans.

There have been instances where the trash company has been out picking up trash and skipped some streets, leading to people calling Town Hall to complain. When that happens, town crews pick up trash in the dump truck and take it to the dump in Hagerstown.

Lanehart wanted to get a record of how many trash collections the town has, how much the town receives from those in a year, and how much the trash company wants to charge.

He added there had been discussions about two years ago where there was a proposed raise in fees, which Lanehart opposed.

Smith said while Apple Valley keeps raising the price, they don’t want to do the town’s recycling.

“It is something we’re going to very seriously discuss to get a handle on,” Kerns said.

The agreement between the county and town about the transfer station goes back to before Dan Murphy came to town, the former mayor told town officials from the audience of the meeting.

Murphy said the land was to be used for as long as the county wanted to use it.

Lanehart said for as much as the county is generating at the transfer station, they should waive the town’s tipping fees at the dump along Route 40.

Smith said he did make a call about the tipping fees and was told to be careful what he wished for as the fees could be higher.

He said the county had been charging $75 a ton, but Smith had found bills from previous years with $55 a ton.

After finding the documentation, the county rep was quick to adjust the price to the $55 a ton cost, which is the discounted price everyone else gets.

“I was like, ‘Well how long did I pay $75 a ton and nobody said anything because nobody was looking at it?’,” Smith said.

Smith said there is nothing in the town charter requiring the municipality to offer trash services.

Gerber Field repairs

In other business, town officials have begun discussions about possibly repairing the roof on the concession stand at Gerber Field before the start of the season. Gerber Field is the home of the Hancock softball league.

Councilman Josh McCusker brought the issue to town officials during the January meeting.

“When it rains, water pours through like somebody opened a garden hose inside,” he said.

Contractors and town crews have been up to the field to patch the roof multiple times.

With the season starting in March, McCusker said the roof needs to be fixed before the season because food cannot be prepared with water inside or moldy tiles.

The town is responsible for the facilities at the field.

Any repair needed would have to bid out, officials said.

McCusker said because the concession stand and the pressbox are two different sizes, and that’s where the issues arise.

“I don’t know really if nobody can find exactly where the water is coming in,” McCusker said.

If officials wait until March to repair the roof, it wouldn’t be finished until the summer. McCusker said he didn’t think Opening Day was until April.

Councilman David Kerns was tasked to come up with a set of specifications for a new roof. The project would also be put out for bid with a due date prior to the next town meeting.