County hears Sykesville's concerns Spout Hill Road, utility bills top agenda

March 09, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The county came to Sykesville last night to hear residents' concerns about Spout Hill Road and the large increases in water and sewer bills.

The Carroll County commissioners said they are willing to compromise on costs of repaving the well-traveled Spout Hill Road, which connects the north end of town to Main Street.

Councilman Kenneth Clark, who threatened last month to have the road closed unless it is repaved, said it "is quickly becoming unsafe."

"Most of the road is totally damaged from the county's sewer line and needs to be repaved," said Town Manager James L. Schumacher. "Our agreement states the county is responsible for maintenance easements."

"I favor a 50/50 split of the paving costs so we can get this road behind us," said Mayor Lloyd Helt Jr.

County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said Sykesville and the county should end the feud that dates back to 1987. "Let's get the road paved, split the cost and get a better definition of who pays for what in the future," said Councilman Clark.

Both sides agreed to work on an agreement.

However, no peaceful solution could be found for complaints raised by about 40 people on increased utility rates -- many up to 100 percent above previous quarterly bills. The commissioners brought staff members to explain the increase.

"For 10 years, the county has been operating the water and sewer system at a loss," said Eugene Curfman, county comptroller.

That worked because the county used area connection fees, charged to new home buyers, to offset the losses, he said. Recent accounting regulations forced the county to set aside those fees for capital projects.

"Within three years, the system would be broke without increases," Mr. Curfman said. "To get the system to break even, we have had to phase in increases."

Most of the residents complained they can't afford the new rates because they are living on fixed incomes or haven't received salary increases in several years. "Why do we have to pay for past difficulties not properly adjusted?" asked Councilman Clark.

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