The Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners approved the latest sewer service agreement with Harford County at their meeting Monday night and, though the current year's net charges are lower, residents were forewarned to expect increases next year.
The commissioners also honored Andrew "Andy" Russo, an 8th grader at Southampton Middle School, with a Student Achievement Award and recognized police officer Christian Rider, whose appointment to corporal takes effect this week.
The new sewer service agreement with the county, which is retroactive to last July 1, calls for the town's users to pay a quarterly fee of $2.41 per 1,000 gallons and a biological nutrient removal, or BNR, fee of 17 cents per 1,000 gallons. The current fees are $2.55 and 16 cents, respectively.
While the total charge went down in the current fiscal year, Town Administrator Chris Schlehr cautioned that is unlikely to continue. The county, he said, is expected to institute an enhanced nutrient removal, or ENR fee, beginning in the 2014 fiscal year this July 1. Schlehr said he was told by county DPW people that the ENR fee could be as high as 25 cents per 1,000 gallons to start, although he said he is awaiting an actual financial work-up from them.
Still, he added, residents and businesses of Bel Air, can probably look forward to both an BNR and an ENR fee next year. The town pays the county to treat its sewage at the county's Sod Run Treatment Plant in Perryman.
"Andy" Russo" has been identified as a remarkable student, enthusiastic helper and caring friend," according to a proclamation read and presented to him by Town Commissioner Rob Reier.
"Being well-liked among his peers, along with having a dedicated work ethic, it is easy to see how Andy naturally excels at being a dynamic leader and how he has earned the reputation of being a kindhearted young man who always gives his best effort in everything he does," the proclamation continued.
In addition to being actively engaged in his classes every day and readily participating in discussions and service learning projects outside of school, Andy enjoys playing soccer, basketball and baseball, according to the proclamation. He also likes working with children and plans on taking an umpire class and looks forward to umpiring youth games.
Andy was joined by a large contingent of family members for the proclamation presentation.
Police Chief Leo Matrangola presented Rider with his corporal's badge after Reier read off a long list of the police officer's accomplishments and proficiencies in everything from firearms to youth crime prevention.
Rider is best known around town for being a longtime K-9 officer with his four-footed partner, Brutus, who is no longer in police service, as Rider moves into his new position as the midnight shift supervisor.
Matrangola praised Rider for his past performance, noting that he has been like all Bel Air Police officers, "ambitious, dedicated and determined to do their jobs."
In addition to members of Rider's family, a large number of Rider's fellow officers attended the promotion ceremony, which was followed by a reception.
The commissioners approved a new lease for 709 square feet to the side of the new Main Street parking lot with the neighboring Tower Restaurant, which is going to use the property is an outdoor dining area.
Schlehr said the lease is for the same terms as the agreement the commissioners approved in December, $3,100 in annual rental based on the revenue from three parking spaces, and a requirement that the lessee carry $2 million in liability insurance. A new lease had to be approved because of a change in the corporate entity that is actually leasing the property, he explained.
Also approved was a lease renewal for the property at 23 W. Lee St. with the operators of the Blue House Clothing Ministry. The town has leased the Lee Street property to The Church of Reconciliation for several years for its clothing distribution center to needy residents.
A resolution to approve the town's mid-year budget was introduced at Monday's town meeting. As required by law, the resolution allows the town to adjust various revenue sources and reconcile expenditures within its approved budget from the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1.
As she had noted previously, town Finance Director Lisa Moody said this year's changes are among the smallest in recent years, with a net gain in revenue over estimates of just $44,782 from a total budget of more than $11.8 million. Additional expenditures will be balanced at the same level, according to a brief synopsis Moody provided about the midyear changes.
The commissioners won't adopt the budget reconciliation resolution until they hold a public hearing before the next town meeting on March 18, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Mayor Eddie Hopkins was absent from Monday's meeting.
• The Irishman's Chorale will perform "An Irish Journey" this Saturday, March 9, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, North Main Street and Broadway. Doors open at 6:45 p.m., with the performance beginning at 7:30. Admission is free. Call 410-879-2012 for more information.
• The annual Easter Egg Hunt at Rockfield Manor will be held on Saturday, March 16. Grounds will open at noon, with the hunt beginning promptly at 1 p.m. Cost is $5 per child and no reservations are necessary. Call 410-638-4565 for more information.
• The Bel Air Kite Festival is coming on April 13 at the Rockfield Park ballfields from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., with April 14 as the rain date.