Official business plowed under Snow delays council meetings

January 14, 1996|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,SUN STAFF

Like everything else, town and county government meetings fell victim to the great blizzard of '96.

Sykesville, Taneytown, Westminster, Hampstead, Manchester and Mount Airy canceled council and other government meetings. Only the County Commissioners -- who ordered the County Office Building in Westminster closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday -- met to conduct business. And that wasn't until Thursday.

"You can't legislate against the weather," said Commissioner Richard T. Yates. "We'll try to reschedule most of the meetings we had planned and fit them into our schedule [this] week."

The most pressing issue before the commissioners last week was the county's dwindling snow removal budget. So far, the county has spent more than $500,000 of the $650,000 budgeted for this fiscal year.

"We'll probably exhaust the rest of it with the storm we're having now," Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said Friday as 6 to 8 inches of new snow fell throughout Carroll. "We do have $400,000 in a contingency fund that will be available to us. But we still have February and March to deal with, and they are typically heavy snow months."

Commissioner Donald I. Dell -- who missed the blizzard while attending an American Farm Bureau convention in Reno, Nev. -- said Carroll will receive some assistance from the federal government, which has declared Maryland a disaster area.

"We will get some reimbursement, but we don't know how much," said Mr. Dell. "That's some consolation, but we don't know when we'll get it either. We have a lot of forms to fill out."

The commissioners said the State of the County address, which was to have been delivered Thursday at the Wakefield Valley Golf and Conference Center, has been rescheduled for Feb. 8 at Martin's in Westminster.

A date has not been set for a Solid Waste Management Symposium that was postponed Friday.

Scrapping the Westminster City Council meeting Monday night was relatively painless because the agenda contained nothing that couldn't be deferred, said Thomas B. Beyard, city director of planning and public works. Business from Monday night's meeting will be scheduled for the Jan. 22 council meeting.

"Sometimes this could really hurt us, but the Lord willing, this time it didn't affect us too much," Mr. Beyard said.

Westminster officials also postponed the city Planning and Zoning Commission meeting scheduled for Thursday night. The move delayed action on two subdivision plats until the Feb. 8 planning commission meeting. But Mr. Beyard said he did not believe that the one-month delay would create problems for the developers.

Clerical workers in the city's water and sewer billing departments found their desks piled with "three or four days' mail to handle all at once" because City Hall was closed last Monday through Wednesday, Finance Director Stephen V. Dutterer said.

Mr. Dutterer said his department will be delayed in processing customers' payments for water and sewer service.

Taneytown's mayor and council delayed their January meeting one week, to tomorrow. The delay didn't create problems, Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said.

The agenda included a public hearing on an annexation request for the Bollinger property, a 117-acre former family farm on York Street that the owners want zoned for residential and industrial uses.

City Manager Charles P. Boyles said the hearing will be $l conducted tomorrow, but the council probably will schedule a second public hearing on the request.

Among Manchester's elected officials, "everyone was completely unanimous" on the decision to postpone Tuesday night's meeting, Mayor Elmer Lippy reported. He said the agenda will be added to that for the Jan. 24 meeting.

Mount Airy postponed its Monday town council meeting, rescheduling it for 8 p.m. tomorrow.

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