Baltimore County

New funding approval drives up Harford's broadband system costs to $10 million

Harford County's information technology department got approval to spend about $1.2 million for another piece of the HMAN fiber-optic cable project, pushing the cost of building the network to about $10 million so far.

The Board of Estimates gave director Ted Pibil the green light Thursday to spend $1,191,068 for design and construction on a lateral of the Harford County Metro Area Network that would run to Norrisville.

Pibil said he expects this to be the last leg of the HMAN fiber-optic cable project.

County officials had already allocated about $8.9 million to build four fiber-optic "rings" to connect government agencies, fire stations, law enforcement buildings, public schools, municipal buildings and, potentially, private homes and businesses.

The department can potentially spend up to nearly $14 million on the network without going over budget, county treasurer Kathryn Hewitt said later Thursday.

The HMAN project was originally split into three capital projects for which about $13,850,000 million has been allocated, Hewitt said.

"They are not exceeding their capital budget in any way," Hewitt said.

Officials said earlier that extending the network to the far reaches of the county would be too expensive.

Pibil said Thursday, however, that many northern Harford residents have recently asked for the extension.

Hewitt noted: "Originally they were going to do wireless [to northern Harford] but they have now decided they can do these laterals."

Norrisville's elevation makes it an especially good site for the network, as an antenna could be added to the area, Pibil told Board of Estimates members Thursday.

"What we are doing is adding another lateral and some anchor institutions to the northern ring we have going on," Pibil told the board, noting his department had not originally planned to run wiring to Norrisville.

He noted, however, that "the purpose of this network is to have equal access to broadband to as many facilities as we can."

KCI Construction Services LLC of Hanover will continue to do the network, prompting Board of Estimates member and County Councilman Jim McMahan to ask if anyone else bid on the project.

"They [KCI] have made out like a bandit on us, haven't they?" McMahan exclaimed.

Pibil replied that other bids were made.

Harford County Executive David Craig, who chairs the estimates board, said the project is key in driving the county into the future.

"If we hadn't done it, we would still be in the 20th century, not the 21st century," Craig told McMahan.

Snow removal, police tag readers

Also at the meeting, the board approved $66,000 for on-call dump trucks from snow removal that went over budget, Tonye Cornbrooks of highway maintenance said.

"This is a direct result of severe weather we have experienced," Cornbrooks said.

The Harford County Sheriff's Office got $290,843 for new database interfaces used in deputy vehicles, as well as five tag readers that Capt. Dan Galbraith have been very useful in finding people accused of having suspended licenses, stolen cars or other violations.

Also approved was $143,340 for a transformer replacement at Sod Run Substation 1 and $115,000 for reflective sign sheeting that Cornbrooks said is used on equipment like school buses that requires specific material.

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