Town Administrator Chris Schlehr explained the $687,000 actually represents the county's share of a major renovation project that has been planned for the garage for which funding has been built over three years to get a lower cost for the work that needs to be done.
Schlehr said the town plans to borrow its share of the project, which will run about $343,000.
Credit card fees planned
The town commissioners also introduced a resolution Monday to impose a convenience fee for residents and property owners who choose to pay their town property tax and sewer bills with a credit card.
The fees, to be collected by a third party handling the transaction for the town – KHA Processing, will be 3.15 percent of the amount of the real estate tax bill, plus a 25-cent transaction fee and $4.50 for every $150 of a sewer bill, which amounts to a percentage rate of 3 percent on the sewer bill.
Finance Director Lisa Moody said, however, that concerns were expressed by some commissioners about the proposed convenience fee rate on sewer bills and flush tax payments, so she plans to offer an alternative, probably a graduated flat fee with a maximum cap. Moody said the alternative proposal will be offered at the commissioners next work session on May 29.
In 2007, when the town began allowing residents to pay their town taxes and sewer fees online or in person by credit card, it absorbed the credit card costs in an effort to encourage residents to use plastic. Now that the program is so popular, she said, the town finance staff recommended the convenience fee be imposed to defray the town's rising costs.
A public hearing will be held on the resolution at the next town meeting June 4. If the measure passes, the convenience fees will take effect with the start of the new town fiscal year on July 1.
Height limit raised
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 750-12 which raises the maximum height for single family detached houses and townhouses to 35 feet or three stories in the R-2 medium density residential zone.
The current limit has been 30 feet and 2.5 stories for both.
The change was made at the behest of St. Matthew Lutheran Church for its property on Moore's Mill Road, which the town annexed two years ago and zoned R-2. The church plans to sell up to eight acres for development.
Robert Kahoe, the lawyer representing the church, said the height limit change would allow the property to be marketed for three-story townhouses with garages on the first story, which would be more desirable to builders and potential buyers of the homes.
Kahoe called the change "benign," pointing out there are few undeveloped R2 properties left in town and said the garage townhouses will "make a really good product."
Historic Poster Contest
Bryan Payne, chairman of the Bel Air Historic Preservation Commission, presented awards to the winners of this year's Historic Poster Contest.
The contest is open to all 4th-graders in participating elementary schools. Payne said there were more than 150 entries this year, as the kids each picked a historic building and drew it.
Chris Walker, of Homestead-Wakefield, was the first prize winner this year for his drawing of the Hopkins House on North Main Street. He and the second and third prize winners, Steven Lentz, of Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School and Sam Myrick, of Harford Day School, received certificates and gifts from Peoples Bank. Honorable mention winners Mackenzie Plowman and Rebekah Cross from Homestead/Wakefield, Catherine Standish and Erin Smearman from Bel Air Elementary and Esha Gupta and Julian Karlic from Harford Day School received gift cards from local restaurants.
The winning posters will be made into place mats and featured at many local restaurants.
• Rob Garrigan will perform at the lunchtime concert this Friday, May 25, from noon to 1 p.m. at Office Street.
• A Memorial Day Ceremony will be held Monday, May 28, at Shamrock Park beginning at 10:30 a.m.
• Flag Day in Bel Air will be celebrated June 2 at 8 a.m. in Shamrock Park. Guest speaker will be retired Army Col. John F. Kutcher.
• The Bel Air Town Run will be held June 3 beginning 8 a.m., a 5k foot race with a 1 mile walk starting on Main Street at the Courthouse. Call 410-879-0056.
• The Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra will perform June 3 at Shamrock Park beginning at 7 p.m.
• The Bel Air Downtown Alliance is sponsoring an outdoor movie, "The Muppets," in Shamrock Park on June 8. Seating opens at 6 p.m., movie starts at dusk. No admission will be charged.
• The next town meeting will Monday, June 4, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.