The Leonardtown Council voted Monday to renew its one-year contract with Old Line Environmental Inc., despite the rising costs of hauling the municipality’s sludge.
The incorporated town has contracted with Old Line Environmental since 2015. The new contract, which ends July 21, 2020, sets the hauling fee at $127.25 per ton for Class A sludge processed by Leonardtown’s wastewater treatment plant.
That cost is increasing from $80.33 per ton, Laschelle McKay, town administrator, told the council. That amounts to a 58% increase in a single year.
The town was one of Old Line’s first customers, McKay said, which kept the hauling costs low. Now the Curtis Bay-based company has been bought by Synagro, “and so the prices really are, everyone’s prices are going up,” she said.
“We’ve discussed and pursued other options since , but so far we don’t have another solution,” McKay said. “A lot of other places are in the same predicament.”
The treatment plant currently dries sludge processed there in a 60-by-80-foot space, Jay Johnson, utilities superintendent for the town, said. And, he said, the facility doesn’t have adequate storage space to significantly tamp down the weight of the sludge before it’s hauled, which would reduce the costs.
The treatment center is seeking to fix a section of its drying area, and that project is currently out to bid and should come back before the town council in the next month for approval, McKay said.
The town currently has $52,000 budgeted for the contract, but Johnson estimates hauling could cost a total of $67,000.
But still, after exploring other options, including other private haulers and local contractors, Johnson said Old Line’s contract was the most cost-effective option.
“They are the cheapest, for the amount of sludge that we have, which is about 533 [tons on] average,” he said. “Hopefully we can store it long enough that it would be under 500 tons, which would help lower the price.”
In other business, the council members approved one-day premises extensions for The Rex to accommodate the town’s Sept. 28 pub crawl, and for the Brudergarten at Shepherd’s Old Field Market for its Octoberfest on Oct. 5.
Ellen Lewis, owner of Crazy for Ewe and new president of the Leonardtown Business Association, also addressed the council about the association’s new website — www.visitleonardtownmd.com — which puts a spotlight on Leonardtown businesses and is meant to draw tourism to the area. Lewis has taken over as association president after Joe Orlando, former owner of Fenwick Street Books, retired this summer.