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City measures aim to prevent sewer problems

August 25, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council voted Tuesday to adopt new spending measures aimed at correcting problems with the city's sewer system that have caused several spills of wastewater in recent years.

The spending measures include $114,700 for two emergency electric generators; $132,700 for three new staff positions; and $297,600 for equipment repairs.

Twice this month and several times over the past two years, the city Waste Water Treatment Plant on Frederick Street has spilled wastewater that contained higher levels of bacteria than normally would be released.

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Officials blamed this month's releases on electric problems, but previous releases were blamed on system overloads due to heavy rainfall.

The new spending approvals were part of nearly $1 million in new spending over the next two years proposed last week to address those problems.

Some council members questioned whether one proposal - a supervisory staff position to direct the improvement projects - would be the best way to spend the newly approved money. The other two proposed staff positions were field operators.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh was joined by Mayor William M. Breichner and Council Lewis C. Metzner when she said she wasn't sure some of the money should be spent for another field worker instead of the supervisor.

Metzner said during the meeting that the council could later reconsider whether a supervisor should be hired. The council voted 4-1 for the measure.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said he voted against the measure after the brief discussion because he favors the supervisor position.

"I feel that the project was solid as presented," Aleshire said after the meeting.

The generators were approved 5-0 as one item in a consent agenda. Consent agendas usually contain smaller spending items that are voted on as one item with little discussion.

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