As you are aware, Harford County has joined with the Cities of Aberdeen and Havre de Grace and the Town of Bel Air to consider the formation of a Regional Water Authority. I would like to take the opportunity to provide the citizens of this county with a status update.
Earlier this year, the county and our three municipalities agreed to jointly fund a study which will give us a framework for the creation of the authority and which will answer many of the questions that we all have regarding how it would operate. The study is being funded by the four subdivisions at rates proportionate to the number of water and sewer connections they have.
The study will be comprehensive, detailed, and technical, and will serve five main purposes. First, it will define how the development of the county's Water and Sewer Master Plan would change with the formation of a new Regional Authority, and will determine how requests for new service will be handled by the member subdivisions.
Second, the study will develop a compensation plan for employees of a Regional Authority and define how transitioning employees from member subdivisions to the authority will be accommodated at compensation levels that are at least as high as they are currently.
Third, the study will determine the budgetary effect of the Regional Authority on the member subdivisions. Fourth, it will review the water and sewer infrastructure needs of each of the member subdivisions and develop a combined Capital Investment Program for the proposed Regional Authority.
And finally, the study will review the financial data provided by member subdivisions and the preliminary combined Capital Investment Program, and develop a projected customer rate structure for the initial period of operations of the new Regional Authority.
As envisioned, the authority would operate under the leadership of a board of directors appointed by the four political subdivisions involved. The meetings of the board would be open to the public and the authority would be a quasi-governmental body.
This study phase is the second of four phases that could result in the creation of a Regional Water and Sewer Authority to oversee the water and sewer infrastructure in the entire county, as opposed to having four separate systems. Should the study results warrant further pursuit of a water authority, Phase III would involve the development of articles of incorporation and the legal creation of the authority. The fourth and final phase would involve the transfer of assets and debts from the four existing entities to the new authority.
Throughout this process, we will be open, transparent, and deliberate. Meetings will be open to the public and minutes have been and will continue to be posted online. I feel that this process is a very necessary one because the current system is simply not sustainable for the future.
David R. Craig
Harford County ExecutiveCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun