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Baltimore Co. Council questions proposed sewer extension to official's property

The Baltimore County Council postponed action this week on a resolution that would have extended a public sewer line to a single property at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $200,000.

The home is located in the 100 block of Delight Road in the Reisterstown area.

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"I think the question that we all have is the exorbitant price that the county is going to undertake to get this done for one house," Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat, said Monday when the council tabled the vote.

Suzanne Berger, who is the county's deputy director of the Office of Human Resources, is an owner of the property, according to state property records. Berger couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

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A public hearing was held on the proposed extension in February. Council members also discussed the proposal at a work session last week.

A county spokeswoman said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, whose administration proposed the resolution to extend the sewer line, said he asked for more information after the council meeting Monday.

"The County Executive was not aware of the details of this specific project," public works spokeswoman Lauren Watley said in an email to The Baltimore Sun. "In light of the Council's action, the County Executive has requested a complete briefing before deciding whether or not to move forward."

According to a fiscal note prepared by the county auditor's office, the total cost of the project would be $267,321.

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The county would pay $193,706 and the property owner would pay $73,615.

"According to the Administration, a determination has been made that a significant health problem exists in the affected area," the fiscal note states. "The extension of the sanitary sewer system will eliminate the problem by halting discharge of surface sewerage into the public area and the resulting well contamination."

The home is located in the district of Councilman Julian Jones, a Woodstock Democrat.

He said Tuesday that although the project is currently only for one property, it could eventually benefit others in the neighborhood.

The council's action came after their meeting had adjourned. During the meeting, the members approved the resolution. But after the meeting ended, they reconvened and tabled the matter.

"This is quite an expense for one property," Council Chairman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat, said after the meeting. "We just need to know more information."

Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a Middle River Democrat, said she wanted more information on how the cost of the project stacks up to other sewer projects.

The resolution was one of three administration-backed measures that the council tabled Monday. Members also postponed votes on contracts with Sudina Search to provide recruiting services for vacant positions, and Lorenz Inc. for the mowing of county properties.

Council members said they wanted more information from the county executive's administration on the contracts before they approved them.

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