SNOW HILL — After contract complications with a private waste hauler, the town of Ocean City has turned to Worcester County for help depositing trash until a new contract with a different agency begins on June 18.
With the county promising cooperation, Ocean City officials are confident that residents and visitors to the resort will see no reduction in services.
“The town is doing what they need to so we don’t have a backup of trash,” said Ocean City Public Works Deputy Director Richard Malone.
Last Sunday the county landfill opened at unusual hours to accept weekend trash from Ocean City, which has been dealing with contract issues from its current provider, East Coast Resources (ECR).
“They have periodically been bringing their trash to us over the last several weeks because of the inability of ECR to perform,” County Public Works Director John Tustin wrote in a memorandum to the County Commission Tuesday.
After opening up the landfill last Sunday exclusively for use by Ocean City, Tustin explained that town management has requested potential additional openings on the next two consecutive Sundays if the need arises. Any county employees that work during those Sundays would be paid overtime and Ocean City will be required to foot the bill as well as compensating all equipment fees and mileage for employees.
ECR has had a contract with Ocean City for the past three years. This year, however, Malone confirmed that ECR did not attempt to re-new the deal and the town will be going with Covanta Energy for future disposal needs.
“ECR decided not to ask for an extension … they did not submit a bid at that time,” Malone said.
Even without the company wishing to pursue a fourth year working with Ocean City, Malone said that ECR representatives guaranteed a smooth transition.
“The managers at ECR assured us they’d be on board until June 17,” he said.
Unfortunately, Malone admitted that service from ECR has declined rapidly over the past few weeks, as has contact.
“ECR has stopped taking our phone calls,” he said.
Though still technically on contract until June 17, ECR began to lag behind their promised waste hauling schedules in May, according to Malone. He added that they have also begun removing their equipment from the city, usually after hours, which would allow them to avoid confrontation.
While he classified the situation as “extremely frustrating,” Malone promised that Ocean City has been going through the necessary channels to maintain the status quo and guarantee service until Covanta takes over later this month.
“We’re making things work every day … nobody in town even knows we’re having these issues,” he said.
There was some bad blood between Worcester and the resort town over trash collection when Ocean City chose to leave the county program and take care of waste hauling privately, a move which sent a lot of revenue that traditionally went to the county into Ocean City’s coffers. However, this didn’t stop the commission from voting unanimously to make the landfill available to the city if need be.
According to Tustin, Ocean City is attempting to mobilize Covanta before June 18 to pick up ECR’s slack. Private waste haulers are another alternative, though Malone wasn’t able to go into too much detail about all of the resort’s options due to fact that ECR’s inability to live up to their contract may mean the entire situation will head to court.