Brooklyn Park residents better not count on the state to help pay for a $8 million project to repair and replace clogged 60-year-old water mains.
Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary, who requested state financial help late last year, said the Department of Environment has already earmarked the money in its 1997 capital budget for other projects and cannot pay 50 percent of the costs.
Mr. Gary will explore state grants, said Betty L. Dixon, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Public Works.
"We are looking to the state to allay the cost so the entire burden isn't put on residents," said Ms. Dixon.
The county wants to begin the work by next year, she said.
The pipes, which are owned by Baltimore City, serve 3,100 residences and commercial businesses in the northern Anne Arundel community.
Anne Arundel built the infrastructure for the water system in 1929 and deeded it to Baltimore for maintenance and operation. Brooklyn Park residents pay water fees to the city.
The aging water lines are clogged with mineral deposits, constricting water flow.
Low water pressure became apparent Oct. 28, 1994, when firefighters battling a house fire in the 100 block of W. Seventh Ave. got very little water from the nearby hydrant. A woman died in the fire and her family was left homeless.
Now when firefighters encounter a deficient hydrant in the area, they use hydrants on Ritchie Highway, where water pressure is greater.
While everyone agrees the work must be done, Baltimore and Anne Arundel officials continue to debate who should pick up the tab.
"We are just collecting our costs so we don't have any extra money here," said George G. Balog, director of Baltimore's Public Works Department.
Mr. Balog said payment for rehabilitating the Brooklyn Park water system must be handled like the city's other arrangements.
But Anne Arundel officials and residents said they aren't in a position to bear the burden alone.
"We feel very strongly that the city should pay for it," said Del. Joan Cadden, a Brooklyn Park Democrat. Ms. Cadden and state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno are working together on the issue.
The average Brooklyn Park homeowner could pay $170 more a year for water and sewer service when the system is transferred from the city to the county.
In Baltimore, where water fees are subsidized by city taxes, the average quarterly water bill is $25.54; the sewer bill is $37.47. In Anne Arundel County, which has no comparable subsidy, the average quarterly water bill is $36.30, plus $68.83 for sewer service.
Mr. Jimeno and Ms. Cadden oppose transferring Brooklyn Park residents to the county's water and sewerage enterprise fund. A portion of fees collected through county residents' bills are placed in the fund to help maintain the county's system.
Mr. Jimeno said this would create a hardship on those who have paid the city for these services.
The county has scheduled public meetings on the project at 7 p.m. April 16, 18 and 24 at Glen Burnie High School.