Three newly elected members of the Havre de Grace City Council were sworn in during a brief ceremony as part of Monday night's council meeting.
Harford County Circuit Court – and Havre de Grace resident – Judge Emory Plitt administered the oath of office to William T. Martin, a returning member of the council, who has served as city council president, and to David Glenn and Joseph Smith who were elected to the council for the first time May 8.
The two incumbents who were not re-elected, James Miller and Fred Cullum, said their goodbyes at their final council meeting. Miller joked that his leaving would make many people happy and told Cullum it had been a pleasure working with him.
Cullum, who has served on the city council for 16 years, said the day he began his first term, May 15, 1995, seemed like both a "lifetime" ago and "like yesterday." He thanked the citizens of Havre de Grace for believing in him, as well as his wife for supporting him.
Mayor Wayne Dougherty also presented both men with decoys as gifts.
After the new members were sworn in, the council elected Randolph Craig as its president for the coming year.
There were public hearings Monday night for two ordinances, including one which sets the real property tax rate at $0.58 per $100 of assessed value for the fiscal year of July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, a 1-cent reduction from the 2012 budget.
The other ordinance, if passed, would amend the city code regarding backflow protection for the city water supply.
There were no public or council member comments on either ordinance during the public hearing.
Council members also introduced a third ordinance to set water and sewer rates for fiscal years 2013 through 2015 for the second reading. During the meeting, Cullum introduced a couple of amendments with minor changes.
Miller also commented on the ordinance, announcing results from a city test, which he said found 65 leaks from broken lines and 10 manholes leaking, among other issues.
He was not in favor of raising rates, Miller said, "because the city has taken no steps to correct these actions."
At that, Public Works Director Larry Parks said they were working on the problems and that it sounded "big," but is a "minor issue."
Craig also expressed concerns, but his dealt with the city's use of the consumer price index, which he said was not applicable in Havre de Grace.
He would support the ordinance and the Water and Sewer Commission's overall plan, Craig continued, but would monitor this portion of it. The ordinance was later approved, with all members but Miller voting for it.
In the second half of the meeting, once the new members were sworn in, the city council adopted a temporary seal to reflect the War of 1812 bicentennial.
Earlier in the meeting, Dougherty gave a third quarter financial report, in which he stated the city was in "sound financial shape" and was $1.8 million ahead of the budget, with higher tax revenues but continuing to spend at budgeted levels.
Council members also accepted an amendment to appoint a citizen to the water and sewer commission on a temporary basis, proposed by Dougherty. The citizen member would serve for six months, until a formal amendment to the code can be passed that would create a permanent citizen member on the commission.
An event application for First Fridays was approved to allow the 100 block of Washington Street to be closed. Council members also approved a license agreement to allow a roof to be converted into a deck at 632 Erie Street.
Ronald Browning presented preservation awards that the Havre de Grace Historic Preservation Commission earned from Harford County recently for their Lafayette Trail brochure.
Three appointments were approved: Christine Berry to the Arts Commission, Daniel Edwards to the Tree Commission and Billee Smith to the Tourism Advisory Board.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun