$60,000 transferred to help pay for sewer system

June 05, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

The County Council approved a $60,000 transfer of appropriations and revenues within the water and sewer capital projects fund to cover the costs of the first phase of bringing public sewerage to the Upper Lake Fanny area.

The sewer project, which will serve 25 properties along Business U.S. 1 south of Tollgate Road, will cost $630,000, said Jackie Ludwig, chief of administration and engineering in the water and sewer division.

She said the $60,000 will cover the design and engineering stage of the project.

An additional $570,000 for construction is in the county's fiscal 1995 capital budget, which was approved by the council May 25.

Carlos Espinosa, chief engineer in the water and sewer divisionsaid the project will be completed in two years.

The county will recover the project costs by assessing each of the properties an estimated $1.47 per $100 of assessed value over a 20-year period.

Ms. Ludwig said each owner will pay a one-time charge of at least than $3,256 for connecting to the system.

The area just south of the Bel Air town limits, which containmostly businesses, has a long history of asking for public sewers, said Mr. Espinosa.

He said citizens first requested public service from the Harford County Commissioners in 1969.

The commissioners approved preliminary designs in 1972, but the plans were shelved in 1975, he said. The idea re-emerged briefly in 1987, but there was not enough support among property owners.

In the spring of 1993, it emerged again. At that time a petition circulated by citizens said that a majority of property owners in the predominantly commercial area were interested in having public sewerage.

The council passed the bill Tuesday as emergency legislation, meaning it will go into effect as soon as it is signed by the county executive.

The 7-0 vote followed a public hearing during which all speakers supported the project.

Prescott Coale, owner of Bel Air Bowl, said, "We are very much in favor of the project. We've been waiting 35 years for this."

Bel Air Bowl, one of the oldest commercial establishments on the Baltimore Pike, was opened in 1960. Mr. Coale said it has been operating on two septic systems that have had to be pumped out monthly in recent years.

In other business, the council:

* Held a public hearing on a proposed update of the pay and classification plan for county employees.

The legislation, sponsored by County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, would create 17 classifications and delete 20 classifications in various governmental departments.

Under "special funded positions," including the Sheriff's Office and the Circuit Court, 12 classifications would be created and 12 deleted, including four positions in emergency communications that are no longer handled by the Sheriff's Office.

All classified positions include a 3 percent cost-of-living pay increase that will take effect at the start of the fiscal year July 1.

Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson introduced three amendments to the pay plan that would remove 33 job titles under law enforcement and corrections. Those classifications, which were inserted into the plan last year when the county executive proposed creating a county police force to take over public safety responsibilities from the Sheriff's Office, are not occupied.

Randy Schultz, Harford County director of human resources, said the classifications were kept in the plan as vacant positions pending the outcome of a referendum in November, when voters will decide whether they want a county police department to be established.

* Held a public hearing on a proposed $500 property tax credit to owners of land having a qualified conservation easement. The legislation is designed to encourage owners of private land that is environmentally sensitive to grant an easement to an environmental organization or land trust.

Jay Young, chairman of the environmental Land Preservation Commission, said $500 is a conservative figure. "We see this bill as a starting point . . . to introduce the concept of environmental land credit," he said.

* Passed 7-0 a resolution holding the property tax rate at $2.34 per $100 of assessed value in Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, and $2.73 elsewhere in the county.

Mr. Wilson, who said he was "reluctantly" voting for the measure, pointed out that at the current rate, taxes will produce $3 million more in revenue than there are appropriations in the $237.9 million budget the council approved last week for fiscal 1995.

"It is not right year after year to have a tax rate that raises more money than we're allowed to appropriate," he said.

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