Sewer, repaving projects debated; Commissioners vote to allow Westminster to keep bank project grant


Carroll County and Westminster officials came one step closer yesterday to ending disputes over funding the Lucabaugh Mill Road repaving project and sewer extensions to 19 homes in the Cranberry area.

The sewer and repaving projects have nothing to do with each other but became linked after county and city officials began arguing over funding responsibilities for them.

The projects became even more mired when a third funding debate was recently thrown into the mix.

On Feb. 8, the county commissioners surprised Westminster officials by sending them a letter saying they would not agree to funding the repaving and sewer projects unless the city returned a $50,000 grant. The grant was intended for the city's parking garage, planned in conjunction with the now-scrapped $6 million Carroll County Bank & Trust Co. complex downtown.

The city argued that because it hopes to find another project for the site -- its goal is to begin construction by spring 2000 -- it should be able to keep the money.

At an upbeat meeting of the county commissioners yesterday at the County Office Building, Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell voted to let the city keep the grant if it agreed to pay interest.

The third commissioner, Julia Walsh Gouge, was not present.

"It's a picayune kind of issue to go after the interest, but I have a responsibility to the county," Dell told Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan and Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works, who attended the meeting to discuss the funding issues.

"I'll have to go back to the council to get that approved, unless you want me to write a personal check," Yowan joked.

"Well, that would be fine," Dell replied.

The congenial atmosphere was vastly different from that at the city's last council meeting, when the letter demanding the $50,000 was received hours before the meeting began.

At the time, Yowan said he was flabbergasted that the county would ask for the money to be returned. He added that he kept telling everyone Dell was a nice person and that Dell kept trying to prove him wrong.

If approved by the Common Council at its meeting Monday, Westminster will pay the county the equivalent of interest earned from the time the bank pulled out of the project -- Jan. 28 -- until a building permit is issued.

Yowan, who favors the proposal, said the amount would likely be $2,000 to $5,000.

The agreement reached yesterday regarding the original two items calls for the county to pay $102,000 toward the $160,000 repaving project. That's $8,000 less than the city had wanted but more than the $86,000 county officials recently agreed to. In return, the city would bill the county about $37,000 for the sewer extensions, about $16,000 less than it could have charged.

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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