Sewer project will run deficit

March 17, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Sewer project will run deficit

The Washington County Commissioners Tuesday approved a $700,000 sewer project that will not pay for itself.

The Pangborn East project would provide sewer to 50 homes at a cost of about $14,000 per home, Water and Sewer Director Greg Murray said.

County Commissioner James R. Wade was the only commissioner to vote against the project. Wade said he agreed that those homes need sewer, but said the project was "another example of what led us to where we are today."

Wade said the project ultimately will result in more subsidies from the county general fund or higher water and sewer rates. He said the county should try to get federal or state grant money.


Wade said the county needs a state delegation willing to lobby hard and "bring home the bacon."

Murray said the county would get $1,750 per home in hookup fees, or a total of $87,500. Residents of the homes would pay another $8,000 a year in sewer bills, not nearly enough to pay for the project, Murray said.

Commissioner John S. Shank made the motion to move forward with the project. Shank said that he made the motion because the money for the project has already been borrowed and the county is paying interest on the money.

Commissioner R. Lee Downey suggested that additional money could be taken from the general fund to subsidize the project.

"The days of the federal government or the state government picking up 90 or 95 percent of the tab is over," Downey said.

The commissioners decided not to fund the $2.5 million Holiday Acres/Beaverbrook project, which includes a new pump station and service to 115 homes west of Smithsburg. The commissioners instead will try to get grant funding for the project.

More than 60 percent of the people in the Pangborn East area signed a petition in favor of the project. About 95 percent of the homes have septic system problems, according to the Washington County Health Department.

A public meeting will be held to inform residents of the project, Murray said.

In addition to the $1,750 hookup fee that the county will receive, Hagerstown will receive a $1,000 hookup fee because the sewer will flow into the city's treatment plant, Murray said.

The Water and Sewer Advisory Commission recommended making Pangborn East the first priority ahead of Holiday Acres.

Michael Armel, an advisory commission member, asked the commissioners not to put the burden of the Pangborn East project on other county sewer users. Armel said systems that can't pay for themselves should be subsidized by the general fund.

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