County Suffers Sticker Shock After Town Bills a Half-Million Dollars for Permits & Fees for Detention Center

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.


4 responses to “County Suffers Sticker Shock After Town Bills a Half-Million Dollars for Permits & Fees for Detention Center

  1. Crazy Old History Teacher

    That’s it, I’m back and this time I’m here to stay! I was going to take the summer off but the 5 Elkton [remark editing by blog publisher] called me out of vacation!!! They obviously never had me as a teacher, either that or they were sleeping in class the entire time, I make it an effort to not remember the students who sleep. First off why does the Correction Center have to be in Elkton? Perhaps they should consider going to North East, it’s more centralized in the county and I’m sure the Mayor and Commissioners of North East would welcome them with open arms. I see nothing wrong with waiving fees for public service buildings like schools and jails but you shouldn’t waive them for every developer that asks you to. If my taxes go up thanks to the 5 [commissioners – edited by blog publisher] of Elkton and the county commissioners, I’m moving to Harford County!

  2. Well old history teacher, it has been months since you noticed Someone Noticed and provided your rather skepitcal take on local matters. We welcome most comments and don’t mind if they’re a little sharp, but we try to keep them somewhat reasonable. You’ll notice I edited a few of your comments for publication purposes, but most of your material is here.

  3. Just when I thought the local politicians couldn’t be more myopic, I read this post.

    You know – you couldn’t come up with a better reality show. Someone with a camera should follow these guys around for a week and see how many times they say or do something that could get them into trouble….

    I find it interesting that they are now gun shy about “waiving” those fees because the courts told them they shouldn’t have done it for the developer – pointing out that they overstepped their authority.

    This just made me laugh out loud.


  4. Wayne, good to hear from you.

    Their meetings would capture attention, but I’d hate to see them mess up the overnight ratings since the regular broadcasters are having such a hard time these days capturing audience.

    They did half-way launch E-span, my term for the videos they put up a few days later on the Internet. But they only do it for half of the meetings and they don’t stream the one where they really mull over the subject and decide that they’re going to do it, the workshop. In the workshop they poll everyone to see if they’re in support of something and if so they just ratify it at the regular meeting, without much discussion. They said they wanted to increase public awareness. Well why not show the workshop where they’re examining the details. There must be some reason since they’ve demonstrated that they have the IT capability and technical know how. It would be good for citizen involvement, unless there’s something I’m really missing.

    BTW, if they can only do one or the other, I’d vote for the workshops. From a civic improvement and citizen involvement standpoint, those are much informative and helpful for the greater public good.

    BTW, we’re considering the idea of launching a video news service on these meetings, since as you point out there’s great potential here. From our standpoint, the technology is way too easy these days and it would be faster than trying to prepare copy of what happened. That way they could present the situation in their own words and all we’d have to do is an intro to the piece. I think it would be a good public service, so we’re seriously considering that an an additional attempt to fill the news coverage gap related to Elkton government since the newspapers no longer cover them

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