Council Ok's Borrowing Plan For Schools, Services

August 18, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

The County Council gave the go-ahead last week for the county to borrow $36 million in the bond market this fall so that two new public schools can be built next spring and more than $23 million in water and sewer system improvements can begin.

The county is expected to go to the bond market in October or November.

"It's the first time in two terms that Harford County is going tothe bond market to this extent," said Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson. "We have a new executive, and no member of the council has ever voted on a bond issue of this size."

The County Council approveda borrowing plan Wednesday after debating the idea for more than four hours during a public hearing and for another 45 minutes during a special legislative session that began at 11 p.m.

Just before midnight, the council voted, 4-3, to authorize the borrowing of $23.1 million for water and sewer projects, including a tap into Baltimore City's aqueduct, which runs through Harford.

The money will be repaid through higher water and sewer hookup fees already approved by the council and through a new system fee that will be charged to developers, said James M. Jewell, the county treasurer.

Council members Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B; Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, and Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, voted against the water and sewer bond bill. Wilson, who passed on voting twice, broke the tie, saying the projects were needed.

Jewell said some of the borrowed money would be spent on these main projects:

* Expansion of the Sod Run sewagetreatment plant -- $14.7 million.

* Tapping into the Baltimore City aqueduct -- $2 million.

* Expansion of the Perryman water well system -- $350,000.

* Improvements to the Singer Road water main -- $382,000.

The other bond approval bill passed by the council permits the county to borrow $13.1 million to pay for construction projects, including the long-sought Fallston Middle School. That money would be repaid with property tax revenues, Jewell said.

Here's how the $13.1 million would be spent:

* The county's share of building Fallston Middle School -- $4.5 million

* The county's share for building Route 543 Elementary -- $2 million

* Planning money for Belcamp Elementary -- $369,000

* Building a larger gym at the plannedBelcamp Elementary -- $500,000

* Start-up money for the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center -- $750,000

* Renovations to18 Office St. -- $750,000

* Construction of a new Harford Community College building -- $99,900

* Capping the closed Tollgate Landfill -- $4.2 million.

Despite the $13.1 million in additional debt,Jewell said the county's annual payments to amortize the debt would remain unchanged, in the $5 million to $7 million range.

The county paid $5.9 million on its general debt this year, said Jewell. He estimated the county's debt payment next year will be about $130,000 more, or $6.1 million, as a result of the new general bond issue.

Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, cast the single protest vote against the $13.1 million bond issue, even though most of the schools to be built with the money fall within her district.

"I've spent many years giving up my time to work on getting the Fallston Middle School," said Parrott. "But I believe the total amount for the capital projects is excessive. I know the majority vote will carry this through, and I know the Fallston and Riverside schools are in my district, but I cannot in full conscience vote for (this) bill."

Parrott had tried unsuccessfully to convince other council members to cut money for the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center, an applied technology research and education park slated for Aberdeen. She also wanted money axed for renovations to the county office building on Office Street.

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