New Windsor mayor makes sure town gets check $108,600 is county payment of sewer, water connection fees tied to new school

November 17, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

The mayor of New Windsor wasn't content to wait until the check came in the mail.

Jack A. Gullo Jr. said he waited in the county accounting office Friday while a check was cut to complete one stage of the town's complicated negotiations with the county school system over the town's new middle school.

He came away with the $108,600 check that represents the remainder of the money the county owed for water and sewer connection fees.

"I spoke with [County Budget Director] Steve Powell and he indicated that they had cut a check and it was given to . . . Mayor Gullo," said Vernon Smith, director of support services for Carroll County schools.

"Hopefully, now we can get him [the mayor] to sign off on the development and review process and the full permit."

Mr. Gullo said all the payment guarantees is that the town will reserve the water and sewer capacity for the school.

"What I will say, is that they have paid my fee, and tell the Health Department that they have reserved their service," Mr. Gullo said. "But if they are not annexed by the time they want to use the service, they will not be allowed to use it."

Mr. Gullo contends that, unlike other developers, who see that their property is annexed before starting construction, the school board is proceeding backward -- receiving building permits and guarantees from a town of which the land is not yet a part.

"In consideration of the special educational interest the school will serve, the town has made concessions to allow them to proceed," Mr. Gullo said. "But, normally, the annexation is done first, and then the building permits are issued.

"Every day, businessmen are told they have to be annexed before they are guaranteed services."

Talks between the Board of Education and Mr. Gullo stalled when the mayor refused to sign a building permit until he received payment for town water and sewer service.

Mr. Gullo said he could not agree to provide services unless the school system paid for the associated improvements to the town's system.

Although the stalemate could have halted progress on the new school, concessions were made that allowed construction to stay pretty much on schedule.

"We have not slowed or stopped our progress as a result of our dealings and negotiations over the water and sewer," Mr. Smith said. "It has caused us to take a different approach, like, instead of getting one permit, we have been releasing individual permits."

With all the grading and initial pipes in place, contractors have completed the foundations and footing for the building and are installing electrical conduits, Mr. Smith said.

As the work continued in phases, the mayor and school board haggled over the money. In September, they agreed that the county would pay $183,600 in connection fees by the end of October. As part of the agreement, the county forgave a $75,000 loan to New Windsor for sewer plant upgrades. The remainder, though a little late, was given to the mayor Friday.

"The county has paid us. I got all the money I asked for," Mr. Gullo said. "All that remains now is the annexation."

The Board of Education must apply to the town for annexation; none of the paperwork has reached town officials, Mr. Gullo said.

Mr. Smith said the annexation is proceeding "a little slower than some people would like."

"That requires public notice and hearings," he said. "We expect to have the procedure started after the first of the year, somewhere in the area of January or February."

The annexation of the 30 acres on Green Valley Road would enable the school to legally receive town services, since New Windsor's comprehensive plan doesn't allow for service outside town limits.

The property is currently outside the planned service area of the town.

"This is not a difficult process. It's clearly delineated in the State Code," Mr. Gullo said. "Every developer in town had to do this. The school board is dragging its feet.

The school property will include a bus loop, three softball and soccer fields, a large media center, a gymnasium and a cafeteria, at a cost of $7 million.

The new middle school was originally scheduled to open in January 1995, but Mr. Smith said "having a great deal of flexibility in this project" allows the county to move back the opening until September 1995.

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