Elkton Town Hall, July 20, 2010 — When the Cecil County Commissioners opened a letter containing charges Elkton officials say they owe for permits and fees related to expansion of the county detention center, they suffered sticker shock. “You can imagine our shock when we got that bill,” said President Brian Lockhart. “It’s a very huge number. Is there anything we can do to save the taxpayers some money? We’re just asking for a little a relief,” he added while meeting with the Elkton board in a special workshop session.
Falling just short of a half-million dollars, the town’s major utility hook-up fee accounted for the bulk of the charges, $384,750. But there were other assessments, such as about $97,000 for renovation and expansion permits. More minor permits charges involved the site review, and authorization for a fence, plumbing, and HVAC. The total for everything came to $496,392. The county had estimated the cost for Elkton fees and permits would come to $160,000.
Town officials pointed out that major facility fees are particularly critical right now since the town is experiencing a shortfall in revenue to fund major expansions of the utility system. Commissioner Piner wondered if the inmates could be assessed a charge to help everyone with the cost of the operation. He also pointed out how the county’s new tipping fees at the landfill are affecting Elkton taxpayers, while the county mentioned that although the jail is being expanded water consumption will not rise very much because of efficiencies in the new systems.
Mayor Fisona described the challenge for the town. “There’s no new development going on right now, so we need to charge these fees to pay for the utility system.” The town is facing an additional rate increase since new construction is not going on and a consultant evaluating the rates recently discussed the importance of collecting these fees. At the same time, the town just settled a law suit after waiving fees for another recent private project. In that instance, it admitted in court that it has exceeded its authority to wave fees and permit those credits to be handed over to a third, independent party.
As both sides discussed the situation, the county suggested that they’d be willing to pay all the permit fees, if the town would cut the major utility hook-up fee in half. All the county officials supported that idea and the town board decided it would discuss that idea. With that the meeting adjourned.