WESTMINSTER — The City Council is pondering whether to waive $69,050 in impact andother fees for the Board of Education to set up six portable classrooms in the city next year.
The six portables -- each capable of housing 100 students -- are planned for the Multi-Service Center off Center Street, which will be home to about 500 Sandymount Elementary students next year while their school is renovated and expanded.
Students and faculty will use only the cafeteria, gymnasium and school office spaces in the Multi-Service Center. County workers will continue to use the remaining office space in the building, formerly the Westminster Elementary School.
"These students belong in Sandymount and are being brought in temporarily," Ronald Furbay, assistantsupervisor of school facilities and planning, said at the council's meeting Monday night. "It is not our intent to reoccupy the structure."
Council members tabled the request Monday night while awaiting a letter from R. Edward Shilling, school superintendent, stating exactly how long the portables would be at the Multi-Service Center.
"Who's to define what's temporary?" asked Councilman William F. Haifley. "Some of those portables have been at sites for longer
than a year period."
Furbay asked council members to consider releasing the building permits prior to receiving the fees from the board, so building could begin as soon as possible.
"We are on a tight time schedule and need to come out hard and swinging on this," he said, explaining that equipment from Sandymount must be moved to the portables before reconstruction work can begin.
However, city officials saideither the fees must be paid or the council must vote for a waiver to issue the permits.
"The alternative could be to pay the fees up front and then seek the waiver," said Philip Hertz, Westminster's city manager.
The earliest the permits could be released would be theApril 22 council meeting, Hertz said.
While school officials haveasked for waivers from other municipalities in the past, this is thefirst time they have requested one from Westminster, said Lester P. Surber, supervisor of school facilities and planning.
This year's money crunch is the reason for the unprecedented request, he said.
"The budget is a primary concern, as well as the number of portablesinvolved," Surber said. "These are extraordinary circumstances."
Requests to other municipalities have not been granted, Surber said. However, he said some towns, including Taneytown, and the county do not charge the board to set up portables.