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Hagerstown City Council seeks more info on hospital sewer proposal

September 17, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday shot down a preliminary contract that would bind the city to paying an undetermined portion of the cost to build a pump station and sewer line that would serve the Washington County Medical Center.

After discussing some of the contract's conditions with City Utilities Director Michael Spiker, several members of the council said the contract left out too much information, including the city's financial obligation to complete the project.

"There are some red flags that I see here," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said. "... I would be much more comfortable with some price range. It's a short contract. Most of it is talking about what happens if we get into a dispute."

The preliminary contract states, in part, that the Washington County Hospital Association would pay the construction cost and later bill the city for any "modifications beyond that necessary to serve the hospital." If both parties disagree with their share of the financing, the issue would enter arbitration.

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In addition to serving the hospital, the pump station and sewer line would serve new developments in the Robinwood Drive corridor. Preliminary estimates show the tap-in cost could be more than $5,000.

Spiker said some residents who live in that area might be required to tap in to the line when their septic systems fail. The city does not have the authority to issue such an order, Spiker said. That mandate would be ordered by the Washington County Health Department.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II described the issue as a "coin toss," saying that the city should consider paying for the project now to attract business and residential development later.

The council, however, directed Spiker to research the issue further and come back with an estimate of the cost.

"I'm just concerned we don't know the full impact," Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said. "If the city doesn't have the cost now, how can it be determined later?"

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