County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann asked the County Council last week to consider borrowing more than $36 million on the bond market to pay for three new schools and water and sewer projects.
The council has scheduled a public hearing on the bond proposal for 7 p.m. Aug.14, to be followed by a special legislative session. The special session was planned because the council, which usually meets the first three Tuesdays of every month, will have only one meeting in August, on the 13th.
"Even after hearing your extensive presentation at the public hearing, the council may not be prepared to vote on the 14th," warned Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson.
But he and the other council members agreed to schedule the special session after County Treasurer James M. Jewell said he
was concerned a delay might mean Harford would be selling bonds at the same time as other counties and the state.
"If the council doesn't approve the bond authority in August, our bonds will go on sale with everybody else's, and we'll probably endup paying a higher interest rate," said Jewell, explaining that he hoped to offer county bonds for sale in late October. "All we're doingis funding the projects council members approved in the capital budget."
Jewell said the state and other counties are considering going to the bond market in November.
The enabling legislation put before the council last week would give Rehrmann and Jewell the authority to begin asking banks and other investment agencies what interest rates they would charge Harford.
When the county is ready to sell the bonds, the executive will seek council permission for the sale, Jewell said.
One bill, submitted to the council Tuesday, asks for the authority to sell about $13.1 million in general obligation bonds. General obligation bonds are used to pay for several projects. Other kinds of bonds are named after the project for which they will be used, such as water, sewer or highway bonds.
The $13.1 million Rehrmann proposes borrowing in the bond market would be spent on projects including:
* Fallston Middle School.
* Belcamp Elementary School.
* Route 543 Elementary School.
* Start-up costs for the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center, a research and education facility planned for Aberdeen.
* Capping the closed Tollgate Landfill.
The second bill submitted by the executive calls for borrowing$23 million on the bond market to pay for projects such as:
* Water system improvements.
* Connection to Baltimore City's aqueduct,which runs through the county.
* Improvements to the Sod Run Sewage Treatment plant.
"If the council approves the legislation in August, there's a 60-day period allowed for a public referendum or challenge," said Jewell. "If the executive signs the legislation by Oct. 20, that leaves me a window of about 10 days."