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Bel Air July 4 parade route change likely

A revised Fourth of July parade route is likely to be adopted in Bel Air for next month's Independence Day celebration.

The proposed change was discussed at Monday's Board of Town Commissioners meeting and is still subject to review by the State Highway Administration, according to Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola.

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The new parade route will cut out the turn from Main Street onto Route 1 and then to Kenmore Avenue and will instead stay straight on Route 924 (Main) to the end of the parade at Idlewild Road.

Michael Blum, vice president of the Bel Air Independence Day Committee, Inc., said Tuesday that he will be meeting with the committee later this week to discuss a more official announcement, but he added that the recommendation was made to create a better route for everyone involved, from the parade units to the spectators.

"It's something we probably should have thought about earlier," he said.

Credit card fee adopted

The town commissioners voted Monday evening to institute a convenience fee for real estate and sewer bills paid online.

Initially, the town absorbed the costs when they started accepting Visa and MasterCard payments online, according to Finance Director Lisa Moody. With the increased volume of payments, however, the town has decided to levy convenience fees, since it uses a third party processor who charges the town for its services.

The fees were passed following a public hearing during which no citizens spoke and Moody briefly recapped the revised resolution, which takes effect July 1.

The new fees are 3.15 percent on real estate tax payments plus 25 cents and $4.95 per transaction on sewer bills and flush tax bills, with a $250 maximum transaction.

Upcoming public hearings

Commissioners also introduced two resolutions and two ordinances, with public hearings scheduled at the next town meeting on June 18 at 7:30 p.m.

The first resolution, a fiscal year 2012 budget amendment, will increase the budget by $52,484 if passed.

The increase, some of which is grant funded, includes $17,000 to clean ducts in the town hall building and police department, $23,000 to remove the fuel oil tank and pave the parking lot at the former BB&T building lot and $10,000 to paint a mural on the Harford County Sheriff's Office wall, according to Moody.

The second resolution, if passed, will amend the town's fee schedule and delete fees that are no longer applicable, according to Administration Director Joyce Oliver.

Public Works Director Randy Robertson also introduced an ordinance to amend the building code in order to be consistent with Harford County, which recently adopted the 2012 codes from the international code council.

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Another ordinance was introduced as well, to increase fees at the parking garage, for which the town is responsible for one-third of the maintenance, according to Planning Director Kevin Small. After a 2010 study, it was discovered that repairs to the garage for the first three years would be more than $900,000.

In order to maintain the garage, Small proposed a meter increase from the current 25 cents an hour to 50 cents an hour, in order to match surrounding meters in the town. He also said the future BB&T parking lot will have meters and, eventually, as will the south side of Alice Anne Street, if approved.

Other business

Several contract awards were approved Monday evening, including $16,486 to extend the town's professional auditing services contracting, more than $300,000 to enlarge a culvert on George Street and more than $6,000 for fiber installation.

The town also approved $34,900 for a Bobcat sculpture at Bel Air High School from fundraising by the Cultural Arts Commission.

The sculpture contract is going to John Maisano, of Austin, Tex., according to Economic Development Director Trish Heidenreich.

Commissioners also approved creating a reserve fund for capital projects which, according to Moody, would allow the town to set aside money for capital projects as opposed to funding them with current town funds or through local financing.

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