Way out of school project dilemma? New Windsor, county craft a deal


The county government would forgive a loan to New Windsor for sewer plant upgrades as part of its agreement with the town regarding $183,600 the county has to pay in sewer- and water-connection fees for the new middle school.

Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. met with County Budget Director Steve Powell yesterday to work out how the matter would be handled.

"They are going to forgive the $75,000 loan they gave us for upgrading the sewer facility, which was being upgraded in anticipation of the school going on line," Mr. Gullo said. "The remainder of the money [$108,600] will be paid in a lump sum."

Mr. Powell said the agreement is a proposal, subject to the County Commission's approval.

The connection-fees problem was threatening to delay work on the $7.5 million school project. Mayor Gullo refused to sign the final building permit for the school until he was assured that the connection fee would be paid in full. School officials would not pay the town's original fee of $220,000 because they believed the charge for sewer connection was too high.

Even when Mr. Gullo agreed to reduce the fee to the current figure, the two sides could not agree on payment.

In the interim, the school board began minor construction on the 30 acres on Green Valley Road, a few hundred feet from the site of the current middle school.

But school officials knew that the important work could not be done until Mr. Gullo signed the final permit.

"The loan forgiveness is OK to do because, under the repayment obligation, we had to pay back the loan as soon as we got the sewer-connection fees anyway," Mr. Gullo said.

The mayor said he is pleased with the proposal.

He said he believes that everyone involved will benefit.

Mr. Gullo said he was told the town would receive the rest of the payment by mid-October.

Vernon Smith, director of support services for Carroll County schools, said the school system and county are splitting the fees to be paid to New Windsor. Of the $183,600, $75,000 will come from the loan the county has agreed to forgive, and, Mr. Smith said, about $91,000 will come out of school capital projects.

He said he plans to ask the school board to transfer all or most of the $91,000 from the planning account for a middle school to be built on Oklahoma Road. Planning costs for that school have come in under budget because architects will adapt the drawings for the New Windsor Middle School.

Mr. Powell said he was not sure from where the remaining $17,600 would come.

Mr. Smith said he was looking forward to Mr. Gullo signing the building permit.

"Negotiations are part of what we do," Mr. Smith said. "I'm looking out for the good of the school system, and the mayor is looking out for the good of the town."

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