County seeks solution to water/sewer debt

January 09, 1997


Staff Writer

While the Washington County Commissioners haven't asked members of the local delegation to Annapolis for any specific legislation to reduce the county's $55 million water and sewer debt, they are looking at long-term solutions to the problem, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Wednesday.

The County Commissioners did ask the state lawmakers to check into whether any bond money or other funding is available to reduce the debt, said Chris Shank, the delegation's legislative assistant.

County officials also are waiting to see if Congress will approve converting loans the county obtained through the Clean Water Act into grants, Snook said.


Such action would help reduce the debt, but Snook said he wasn't sure by how much.

The County Commissioners also are waiting for the results of a study, expected in the spring, that would tell them whether they need to make improvements to the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant, Snook said.

If those improvements aren't needed, the savings would help reduce future water and sewer rate increases, Snook said.

"There's going to be an increase, but hopefully we can hold it down" from the 14 percent increases suggested by the county's consultant, Commissioner R. Lee Downey said Tuesday during the County Commissioners' meeting with Sharpsburg and Keedysville officials.

Sharpsburg Town Councilman Russell Weaver asked the commissioners on Tuesday night why they hadn't requested legislative changes that would allow 50 percent of the county's gaming funds to go toward reducing the debt.

The Washington County Gaming Commission at the end of January will distribute about $693,000 from tip jar proceeds collected in the last six months, said Coordinator Kathy Sterling.

Sterling said 40 percent of that money will go to county fire departments and rescue squads, and the remaining money will be distributed among charities. The gaming commission has received 63 funding requests from charities, she said.

The commissioners would have to ask the delegation to change the gambling law if they wanted tip jar money to go toward the water and sewer debt because that would involve a gaming tax, Chris Shank said.

The Herald-Mail Articles