Elkton Town Hall, May 19, 2010 — An ordinance that permits the town to provide financial credits for water and sewer hook-ups was introduced at the town meeting. Presently the major utility connection fee is $15,000 for each hook-up. This first reading of the regulation specifically states that the town may grant credits and transfer those fee waivers to another property.
The matter of whether the town has the authority to transfer revenue generating credits from one property to another created enormous controversy in January and is the subject of a lawsuit filed by two Elkton taxpayers. If approved, the new addition to the code will provide the authority for the municipality to waive fees.
A number of other elements were associated with this issue. The Mayor and Commissioners cited a blight reduction policy when the elected leadership waived the fees. But months after the approval of the waiver the policy is still not available for public examination since it had not been created, according to town staff. Another aspect concerned a warning from a financial consultant about foregoing major hook up fees since that revenue funds expansion of the utility system. As soon as the town develops a draft blight reduction policy, we’ll let readers know.
Look for an in-depth piece on this story in the days ahead. The town doesn’t share proposed material on its website, nor does it pass out copies at the meetings. This makes it almost impossible for interested stakeholders to form reasonable opinions on legislative materials or provide constructive input on legislation under consideration. So in keeping with a good journalism practice we learned as soon as we started covering municipal business as new media, we’ll file a Freedom of Information Act request. Once we get a copy of the document, look for a more comprehensive report.