The Town Council last week unanimously approved a policy that will allow town officials to determine water meter discrepancies.
Residents whose homes have both an inside and outside water meter often have different readings on the two meters. The new policy will force most residents to pay any additional water charges owed to the town. Manchester has routinely checked such discrepancies between water metersbut had no annual process to follow.
The new policy provides a payment option for hardship cases and aprorated billing for new residents.
The meter inside the home is considered more accurate, town officials say.
Under the policy, most homeowners will have to pay any additional water usage picked up by the inside meter. The town will not permit appeals if the difference is less than 10,000 gallons averaged over the last year.
Owners who are billed more than $75 in additional water charges will be ableto make payments over a six-month period. The same policy ultimatelywill apply to sewer charges, which are based on water usage.
In other action, the council:
* Renewed the $400-a-week contract of former councilman David M. Warner, who two months ago became the town'sfirst projects administrator. The new contract is good for another 90 days, and is renewable after that period. Since taking the job, Warner has rewritten several town policies, introduced new check cashingstandards, help simplify the town building permit process and tighten monitoring of municipal infractions and complaints.
* Awarded a $159,000 contract to Bevin Contractors for the inspection of the third phase of the town's sewage treatment plant upgrade and expansion.
PARKING PLAN UPSETTING
MOUNT AIRY -- The placement of no-parking signs on a cul-de-sac here has a couple upset.
The signs, posted at the end of Candice Drive, were placed in front of the home of Mr. andMrs. Scott Snyder in a pilot program in which the county will monitor the signs' effectiveness.
The program was started after 15 Candice Drive residents petitioned in January for a school bus stop change. Currently, the program restricts parking on the cul-de-sac between 7 and 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.
The Board of Education would not movethe school bus stop from the busy intersection of Candice and Windridge drives unless no-parking signs were put up in the cul-de-sac, saying that school buses cannot safely negotiate the cul-de-sac with cars parked along the road. The bus stop also is located beneath a 500-kilovolt electric transmission line.
So far, the bus stop has not been relocated.
Snyder, who has complained to newspapers and to the commissioners, said the using of the front of his property as a pilot program is unfair and arbitrary, and warns other homeowners on cul-de-sacs that, should the program prove successful to the county, their parking spaces could be in jeopardy, too.
Snyder also said thathe was upset that while the signs have been installed, the bus stop remains to be changed.
Snyder and his wife have begun a petition drive to tell the county commissioners that no-parking signs on cul-de-sacs is a bad idea.
BUDGET HEARINGS ON TAP
The final county budget reviews are on tap for this week, as the County Commissioners prepare to work out their proposed budget for the year beginning July 1.
On tap for tomorrow afternoon are the State's Attorney's office andthe Victim-Witness Program. Tuesday morning, the second review of the Department of Public Works is scheduled, as are the budgets for theBureau of Solid Waste and the Western Maryland Health Planning Agency. Tuesday afternoon has two budget work sessions on tap.
The commissioners are trying to devise a spending plan that fits $140 millionin funding requests into $112 million of expected revenues.
The commissioners must approve a budget and a property tax rate by May 30.
TRAFFIC STUDY ON AGENDA
SYKESVILLE -- The county Department of Planning will present its findings on a traffic study of Obrecht Road at tomorrow's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, 7:30 p.m. at the Town House, 7547 Main St.
Slade S. McCalip, transportation planner, will give the commission the results of a month-long study detailing future traffic patterns on Obrecht Road when it is realigned to connect with Route 32.
The study also focuses on the anticipated impact of the Shannon Run and Hawk Ridge developments when they are completed and the additional traffic they will generate on Obrecht Road.
Also on the agenda is a commission report on Shannon Run, Phase II, traffic study and a proposed transportation resolution.
The town planning director will give reports on a revised preliminary plan for Shannon Run, Phase II; the Obrecht Road realignment; the Conrey property commercial site plan; and a revised Chapter Four Main Street Master Plan.
WESTMINSTER -- A revised procedure for dealing with patron complaints about materials has been accepted by members of the Carroll County Public Library Board of Trustees.
Although the procedure itself has not changed, employee titles hadto be updated in the policy, said CCPL Assistant Director Gail Griffith.
In addition, the staff has been more clearly instructed on dealing with complaints, she said.
"Gail held three workshops for the staff, dealing with complaints and intellectual freedom," said CCPL Director Martha M. Makosky at Wednesday's board meeting in the Detention Center branch. "Now the employees have a better feeling about the policy and more confidence in handling complaints."
Under the policy for verbal complaints, staff members are to speak with patrons about their concerns and attempt to resolve the problem. If necessary, it will be referred to the branch librarian or supervisor in charge.
All complaints are sent to the assistant director, who will thennotify the director, library officials said. Notes should be taken on each contact with the patron and will be kept for two years.
Written complaints are immediately referred to the director through the assistant director.
In other library news:
* Board members are considering creating a contingency plan for budget cuts, including a policy assuring employees that layoffs would be the board's last resort in the event the economy worsens.
Members also discussed shortening borrowing times for books, possibly allowing more patrons to read the same book.
* Trustees accepted a proposal to freeze wages this year because the county will not be giving the library extra moneyfor pay increases.
NEGOTIATIONS ON HOLD
Contract talks between the county Board of Education and the four of the five associations representing school workers have stalled.
Harold Fox, chief negotiator for the Carroll County Education Association, which represents 1,300 teachers, said his organization has been meeting with its members to discuss a board proposal to table further discussion of salaries for a minimum of 60 days.
The board, responding to the sluggish economy, asked that the associations table further discussion of salariesfor a minimum of 60 days rather than continue to negotiate salary increase the board may not be able to pay for.
Negotiations would continue and tentative agreement would be reached on all issues except salary under the board proposal.
The board initially proposed 3 percent wage increases for workers but because the county is facing spending constraints, money may not be available.
The Association ofPublic School Administrators and Supervisors of Carroll County has accepted the board proposal and has reached a tentative agreement on acontract for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of instruction and a board representative in negotiations, said the food service workers association has declined to accept the plan because wages are too closely related to other issues.
CCEA also has raised concerns about the board proposal. Fox said the association is concerned because the board is askingteachers to delay salary talks while at the same time asking them toagree to a heavier work load. The board, for example, wants to mandate that teachers attend parent-teacher organization meetings on a regular basis.
The associations representing maintenance and custodials workers and secretaries have not accepted the proposal either.
MEASLES CASES APPEAR
County residents 12 or older should get another measles shot, updating the immunization they received at 15 months, county health officials said last week.
Although health officials used to think measles immunizations provided a lifetime of protection,breakouts of the disease among teen-agers and 20-year-olds have led them to believe the shot wears off, said Mary Bandorick supervisor ofthe communicable diseases program with the Carroll County Health Department.
Maryland citizens have reported an increase in measles cases over the past three years Bandorick said.
The latest tide is spreading through Carroll, later than other counties because of its rural nature, she said.
The vaccine is being offered free at clinics from 2 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday in the county health department offices, 540 Washington Road, Westminster.
Two special clinics will beoffered from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and April 17.
All children younger than 18 must be accompanied by parent or guardian. Most people born before 1957 are considered immune, health department officialssaid.
Information: 876-2152 or 857-5000.
MONEY FOR MSP BARRACKS
ANNAPOLIS -- A capital budget plan approved by a House committee includes $150,000 for planning and design work for a project to renovate and expand the Maryland State Police barracks in Westminster.
The allocation had been included in the capital budget plan approved bythe legislature last year, but the governor vetoed it, said DelegateRichard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, a House Appropriations Committee memberwho has lobbied for the money.
The project, scheduled for construction in fiscal 1996, would increase space for administration, communications, garage, and prisoner holding and processing areas. The barracks was built in 1961 and hasn't been expanded.
Dixon said he tentatively plans to seek construction money next year.
WMC GRANT MOVES
ANNAPOLIS -- The House Appropriations Committee approved Thursday a bill authorizing a $1.9 million state grant for the expansion of Western Maryland College's Lewis Hall of Science, provided the collegematches the sum. A companion bill is being considered in the Senate.
DIXON LOBBIES FOR VETS
ANNAPOLIS -- Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, made an impassioned plea on the House floor last week, imploring his colleagues to return Memorial Day to May 30, the original day established to honor U.S. servicemen and women who died at war.
Several years ago, the legislature changed the holiday to the last Monday in May to coincide with the federal day off.
Dixon served at a medical station in Vietnam.
The bill, which was opposed by retail associations, passed the House 90-41, but similar legislation previously was killed by a Senate committee.