Commissioners plan for water plant to fail We have all...


September 16, 2001

Commissioners plan for water plant to fail

We have all heard the term "planned obsolescence." It is one of the means vehicle manufacturers use to get people to buy new cars and trucks. During this current state of mismanagement by the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, the term is taking on new meaning as it applies to the vintage water treatment plant which the County maintains on Liberty Reservoir.

Never before have I seen a county manager resort to blackmailing citizens and a town as the County Department of Public Works is currently attempting by using the lame excuse of aging equipment to promote the development of Piney Run Lake as the sole means of averting a water crisis in South Carroll in 2002. So that developers can continue building residences and shopping centers unfettered, the county is intentionally placing the well-being of existing residents at risk and obstructing the development of the Warfield complex.

Instead of employing four obvious and simple solutions, Commissioners Dell and Frazier have fabricated a plan of intentional failure and planned obsolescence to pursue their political blueprint of bulldozing growth into South Carroll and westward into the land of Rash. The obvious solutions: a moratorium on new residential and commercial construction until the infrastructure is in place to handle it; a fast-track effort to get treatment centers and pumps onto the wells available in South Carroll; upgrading the equipment at the existing Liberty treatment plant instead of forecasting its failure in a peak use season; and negotiating in good faith with Baltimore City for an increased water allocation. Apparently the only thing these Commissioners know about fast-tracking anything lies in what they direct their staff to do with development plans.

Instead of sitting down to negotiate suitable terms for additional raw water from Baltimore they have chosen to insult their water managers by sending them a meaningless agreement which Dell and Frazier concocted, then soliciting industrial zoning in the Liberty watershed. Instead of working with the state for favorable loan or grant terms on a new Liberty water treatment plant, they insult the governor and his staff at every opportunity; now hiring an outside attorney with tax funds to carry the insult even further. Instead of bringing wells on line - which they used tax funds to locate - to avert a water crisis, they are planning to make one occur by singularly pursuing their ill-fated plans for Piney Run. Instead of doing something to slow growth, they rely on the ... developer-inspired Concurrency Management Plan as an excuse to let the growth continue.

There is a saying in management, that "failing to plan is planning to fail." It is a motto taken too literally by these Commissioners as they have surely outlined their plan for the development of South Carroll on a scheme to create a water crisis, hoping that the public will react in their favor by demanding that Piney Run Lake be tapped. Unfortunately, the public is not as gullible as they assume in their tragically flawed strategy, but the conclusion will be nonetheless costly to them as taxpayers.

Neil M. Ridgely


Current water users will pay for new plant

As our second president said in an unpopular trial (defending British soldiers in 1770), "Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be ... the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts."

It is a fact that the brochure distributed to the users of the Freedom water/sewer system by Commissioner Robin Frazier told citizens that "current users will not pay for the construction of this [Piney Run Lake] plant."

If the government tells you something, it's a fact isn't it? Well, maybe not. Commissioner Frazier later had to admit publicly that the statement was not true.

According to Eugene Curfman, the county's comptroller, users of the current system would pay up to one-third [of] the cost of the new water treatment plant. Up to 58 percent of the "maintenance charge" on the most-recent real estate tax bill (marked "WATER MC" and followed by a dollar amount in the rightmost column) will be used to construct the new water treatment plant. The new, higher fee will begin as soon as bonds for the old system are paid off in each neighborhood. For many people, this charge represents a tax increase of more than $200 a year.

The county can make three kinds of charges related to water/sewer systems. One, the front footage fee, is used to pay principal and interest on water/sewer bonds. The second is for the upkeep of (existing) systems. And the third is a connection fee made at the time a property is connected to the water or sewer system. This one is used for payment of principal and interest, for capital improvements and for construction and maintenance of such systems.

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