Annapolis council to vote on sewer contract with Navy

Moyer backs amendment

some want higher rate

January 13, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis city council is expected to vote tomorrow night on a long-debated plan to allow the Naval Academy to pay a lower rate for sewer service than other city customers and institutions.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer will try to pass the amendment to the city's contract with the academy - an issue that dogged her predecessor during his final year in office and became frequently mentioned during her race with former Republican Alderman Herbert H. McMillan.

Though the council raised sewer rates for residents and other customers in March 2000, the city and the Navy - the only customer with a sewage contract - have been locked in negotiations over a new rate.

Last summer, then-Mayor Dean L. Johnson and his staff negotiated a rate that would be retroactive to July, but it was never approved by the council.

That proposed rate is 65 percent more than what the Navy pays now - about the same size as the increase other customers saw in March 2000. But it is still 70 cents less than the rate per thousand gallons paid by other high-volume customers, including the state and St. John's College.

Although the previous council instructed Johnson to continue negotiating for a higher rate and one that would be retroactive to March 2000, Public Works director and former acting city administrator David L. Smith told the new council last month that the Navy refused to negotiate further.

Moyer called the proposed rate "fair and equitable," noting that the Navy maintains its sewage infrastructure.

She said the city and the Navy need to settle on an increased rate as soon as possible so the city can begin collecting payments.

The previous administration "did a year and a half of negotiations and [the Navy] agreed to pay from July 2001," she said. "None of that money is going into our coffers. We can use that money, and we need to get it."

Alderman Louise Hammond, who said she will not support the proposed rate, said she believes the city did not try hard enough during negotiations.

She also questioned why the Navy's maintenance of its infrastructure should be considered.

"I pay my infrastructure costs - we all pay for those costs. It's no different for the Naval Academy," she said.

Also at the meeting tomorrow night, the mayor will introduce a resolution recognizing the service of Thomas W. Roskelly, who was the city's public information officer for 16 years under three mayors. Moyer replaced him last month with Jan Hardesty.

Moyer also will present the second Glittering Gems of Annapolis award to retired Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr. He has served as a County Council member and as a state's attorney. His term on the bench was cut short seven years ago by multiple sclerosis.

The mayor also will introduce an ordinance to lease the city-owned McNasby property in Eastport to the Eastport Historical Committee for the creation of the Annapolis Maritime Museum. The museum would pay $7,500 its first year, $25,000 the second year, and $35,000 its third year. The rent would increase 3 percent each year after that.

Another ordinance to be introduced by the mayor tomorrow would move the public comment period of the council meetings - called "petitions, reports and communications" - to the council's public hearings agenda. A majority vote of the council would be needed for public comment to be allowed at a regular meeting.

The council will meet at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall on Duke of Gloucester Street.

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