Board Receives Lots of Input about Utility Rate Increases & Splits on Vote Over Public Participation

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Elkton Town Hall, June 2, 2010 — It was an unusually long meeting for the Mayor and Commissioners this evening, the board finally adjourning around 9:15 p.m.  After being sworn in the newly elected officials spent most of this evening listening to citizen concerns about utility rate increases.

Speaker after speaker came forward to ask what could be done to alleviate some of the financial burden the rate increase is going to place on households.  Most also wanted to know how they were going to be kept informed about what was going to be done and how they could constructively participate in the process.  To that Commissioner Jablonski acknowledged that it was a challenge with keeping the public informed since the “Cecil Whig no longer sends a reporter to town meetings.”  But she suggested that ratepayers visit the town web site where information is posted. 

As for participation, the Commissioners suggested the public attend the next workshop, but she reminded them that they could only monitor the session since the public isn’t allowed to comment.  That brought chuckles from the concerned audience and caused Commissioner Piner to suggest that for just this time the ratepayers be allowed to send one person to the workshop to represent them.  Commissioner Givens agreed with the need to open up the process in Elkton to the public more since it is something he speaks about often.  But he was concerned with limiting it to one person since different neighborhoods such as Thomson Estates, Elkwood Estates and Holly Hall Terrace are involved with unique interests and the varied input may help the board make a better decision.  As they exchanged points of view on that and Commissioner Piner worried about the meeting getting out of control, Commissioner Givens said “You control it with the gavel.  If someone gets out of order you gavel the meeting back to attention.”

When the vote on the question of allowing one person to speak was called Mayor Fisona and Commissioners Jablonski and Piner voted in favor while Commissioners Givens and Hicks were opposed.  Thus one person will be allowed to represent the ratepayers.

The public kept asking for information on what rate increase the town was considering and were informed that all options were open.  In earlier workshops, the administration had narrowed it attentions down to option D and the board had talked about the recommended plan in some detail.  As a result, they had the admnistration draft an ordinance reflecting an increase as outlined in the option they were identifying in their deliberations as D.  Of course, they could go back to the drawing board and have the administration consider the other possibilities outlined in the report.

In other business, two citizens asked about hook-up waivers and were informed that the town didn’t have the authority to waive those.  That caused a serious of exchanges about what they’d done previously for other projects.

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6 responses to “Board Receives Lots of Input about Utility Rate Increases & Splits on Vote Over Public Participation

  1. Elaine Barclay

    Thank you for the information. I work evenings and cannot attend these meetings. Please keep us posted regarding town matters.

    • Thanks Elaine. There were so many news stories yesterday evening, so I’ll have more details in the days ahead. One concerns the utility rate. At the workshop they instructed the administration to prepare a draft document for final approval. So I’ll go into some detail on that since there isn’t much info behing shared with the public on what’s been considered thus far.

  2. I was at the meeting but I still enjoyed reading your recap of the procedures. Keep up the good work Mike. We depend on you to keep us informed due to total lack of press coverage. Would the selection of a ‘peoples advocate’ from Holly Hall, Elkwood Estates and parts of the Thomson Estates area improve relations with those with no town representation?

    • It sounds as if it would be a step in the right direction. On the larger point though the town board causes creates barrier by not opening up the process in the workshops, which is where they really decide what they’re going to do. In other towns, the workshop agenda is published and the public is allowed to comment. How hard would that be to do in Elkton? Somehow the citizens in those places don’t get out of control so surely the same thing would work in Elkton. The way it works now, you often only get to give input after the fact.

      I though the crowd presenting public comments last night was rather professional in the way they interacted with the board.

  3. Crazy Old History Teacher

    Kudos to Commissioners Givens and Hicks for opposing that idea! They get an A+ in my gradebook. There’s hope for Mr. Hicks! As for Mayor Fisona and Mrs. Jablonski, I still cannot believe they got re-elected. I bet you if Holly Hall, Elkwood, and Thomson Estates were in the town limits, this election would have been much different. We would actually have a Mayor and another Commissioner [remark edited]

    • Well old history teacher, you’ve been the quiet one lately and haven’t been posting as much on our blog, but I guess this got your attention. I edited your remarks slightly since the election over and we’re not going to get into name calling. We had enough of that nonproductive type of thing going on the day after the election. Anyway thanks for sharing your opinion

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