Harford council approves Exelon donation for new 9-1-1 center

The Harford County Council passed a bill earlier this week accepting a $50,000 donation from Exelon toward a room at the new emergency operations center complex the county expects to build north of Bel Air.

Council members did not comment on the bill, which passed 6-0 at their legislative session in Bel Air Tuesday night; Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti abstained from voting.

At a public hearing on the legislation last month, Lisanti had told county treasurer Kathryn Hewitt she found it unusual for the county to accept funding from a corporation.

"This money will be used in the room that is for the emergencies, not the 911 center part," Hewitt explained during the Dec. 18 hearing. "One reason they were going to help us is because a lot of our emergency preparedness in this county is centered around Peach Bottom and because we do a lot of testing with them and a lot of emergency drills with Exelon in regard to Peach Bottom."

Exelon, which became Harford's largest taxpayer last year when it acquired Baltimore Gas & Electric and Constellation Energy, owns both Conowingo Dam and the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, the latter about 10 miles north of the county and state line in Pennsylvania.

According to the county's annual financial report for the 2012 fiscal year, Harford County collected more than $11.5 million in taxes on facilities owned by BGE, Exelon and Constellation.

The county plans to spend $25 million on building the new emergency operations complex on the same site as the existing one.

Credit cards for council

Councilman Jim McMahan said the county council is slated to be issued credit cards and said he hopes the council would be as critical of its own purchases as it is of those made by other departments.

"I am not happy with that," he said about the credit cards. "However, I understand the economics of that."

Bel Air Walmart support

A few residents spoke again about their support for a proposed Walmart in Bel Air.

Liz Cox, of the Bright Oaks area, said Walmart would greatly improve the traffic situation by adding traffic lights.

Two more speakers agreed that the store would be a "great asset" to the area.

$130 million bond sale

The council also introduced resolutions Tuesday endorsing the sale of nearly $130 million in bonds for a variety of projects, mostly water and sewer-related. No vote was taken on them.

Council members also introduced two bills dealing with appropriations from various funds to fund estimated expenses incurred in 2013 for the post-employment health plan and to fund shortfall in personnel accounts because of unanticipated retirements. The two new bills total about $9 million in appropriations.

County auditor Chrystal Moore gave a quarterly auditor update in which she said a new review of legislative audit funding by the board of education would be added to the county audit.

"For now it's just a status review but my hope is to get you all an update to that status in April," she said.

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