Elkton Wastewater Treatment Plant, April 30, 2010 – Friday afternoon about 40 public officials, guests, employees of Elkton and Severn Trent and the public gathered to dedicate the town’s new wastewater treatment plant. Residents of the town were added to the invitation list after Commissioner Charles Givens raised the issue at a board meeting by asking why the ceremony wasn’t open to “everyday people.” In remarks on this sunny spring afternoon Mayor Joseph Fisona and other officials, including Senate President Mike Miller, noted that the plant has many benefits for the municipality and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It exceeds state standards for nutrient removal, the plant has capacity for growth, and it alleviates odors.
The Cecil Whig reported that the plant was financed by more than $19-million in federal and state grants and $21-millioin in town loans. “Elkton’s sewer customers ultimately are on the hook for paying down that debt because past administrations opted to hold the line on sewer rates for more than a decade, virtually ensuring no funding was available to pay down the loan in advance. To that end, Elkton’s town officials have approved major hikes in the town’s sewer rates, including a 20-percent increase in 2005, a 22-percent hike in 2006, a 12-percent hike in 2007 and an 8-percent hike in 2008,” the article noted.
As for future rate increases, officials decided to delay voting on those until after the May 25th town election. A draft ordinance has been prepared that establishes rates that are nearly 60% higher over the next four years. When the matter was discussed, as Someone Noticed previously reported a few weeks ago, official decided to postpone the vote until after the May 25th municipal election.
The paper also reported that the Pennsylvania construction firm building the plant filed a suit in U.S. District Court seeking $2.08 million from the town for alleged cost overruns, but they reached an agreement with town officials out of court. “It wasn’t a settlement” Kim Kamp, Assistant Town Administrator said, but “We came to terms and we didn’t pay them any more than the contract,” the paper reported.
Following the program, town board members, state officials, contractors, and the plant operator cut the ribbon formally opening the plant that will have plenty of capacity for growth and benefit the environment. This was followed by plant tours and a light lunch inside a meeting room in one of the buildings. As politicians and political candidates in town, county and state races mingled with representatives from Severn Trent, Galway Bay (the contractor) and state workers in the reception room, the crowd slowly dwindled on a fine day for the Chesapeake Bay.