State denies grant to update wastewater treatment plant

September 14, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

FUNKSTOWN - Funkstown has been denied an $800,000 state grant that would have helped pay to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant and, as a result, town officials are considering hooking up to the City of Hagerstown or Washington County sewage systems.

Funkstown Town Clerk Brenda Haynes said after Monday night's mayor and Town Council meeting that the town's application for an $800,000 Community Development Block Grant was denied in late July. She said the town is now pursuing every other grant that might be available to them to help pay for the mandated upgrade- a projected $2.4 million construction project.

Funkstown Mayor Robert L. Kline said that the town also is looking into the possibility of either hooking up to Hagerstown's sewage system or to the county's sewage system.


The council voted in June to more than double the sewer rate, bringing it to 160 percent of the water bill, in an attempt to offset the cost of the project.

The town has received about $500,000 from the Maryland Department of the Environment, which ordered the upgrade, and was expecting to receive the $800,000 state grant when it voted to raise the sewer rates to 160 percent of the water bill.

Prior to the vote, Haynes said that if the town did not receive the state grant, sewer rates might have to be raised to 220 percent of the water bill.

She said Monday that increasing the sewer rate to 220 percent of the water bill was "not something the town's considering."

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, attended Monday night's meeting along with David Lyons, a Maryland Department of the Environment division chief in the compliance program, to field questions from residents and elected officials about the town's predicament.

Town Council member Kim Ramer said, "We need more grant money. What the hell is the state of Maryland doing? If there's plants worse off than ours, then why are we getting slapped in the face? Why can't (the state) work with us and get the date pushed back so we can get the grant money?"

MDE has required that Funkstown upgrade its wastewater treatment plant by 2005.

"There are funding sources out there but you have to find them," Shank told the council.

Lyons said that MDE originally told Funkstown in January 2003 that something needed to be done about leakage in the town's wastewater lagoons but later ordered that the entire system be upgraded.

He said that the department would consider amending its mandate to set a time frame under which the town would either have to "upgrade the plant or tie into another system."

Assistant Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. acknowledged the department's flexibility.

"They're willing to work with us but we have to step up to the plate and tell them what plan we're going with," he said.

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