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Mountain View Road Residents Vote To Support Water line Replacement

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(8/8/2003) Next summer, the water Mountain View Road residents get from the town should be far better than the water they get now.

By a 2-to-1 margin, the 28 households on the road just outside EmmitsburgĻs limits voted to help pay to have a new water line run to their homes. Eighteen households cast votes for the project, nine were opposed, and one didnít vote.

The vote results mean the residents will pay 25 percent of the cost of replacing the existing line. Theyíll be offered the option of paying no more than $3,000 up front for their share or paying up to $16.67 extra on their monthly water bill. The exact cost wonít be determined until project bids are received.

Linda Junker, a Mountain View resident who was at the forefront of the replacement-line talks, said she voted for the new line because itís badly needed and the cost seemed reasonable. "Weíve been talking about this since the early Ď90s," she said, "and the (project) cost and (water) quality didnít improve. Given the cost factor, I just thought this was as good as it would get.

"I do think the town is acting as best they can, given their own financial situation."

The town will pay for the project by floating bonds through the Maryland Water Quality Financing Administration. Theyíll repay the bonds, at a 1.1 percent interest rate, over 20 years.

David Haller, Emmitsburgís town manager, hopes bid packages can go out within 60 days. A temporary, above-ground line must be built to provide water to homes during the expected 90-day construction period, so he said itís likely that work wonít begin until spring.

Ms. Junker said she hopes the town can help any affected resident who faces hardships because of the cost increase. She also said that getting a fully functional line could increase property values and lower some peopleís homeowners insurance premiums.

Though heís all for having better water, Blaine Ridenour voted in the minority. His position is that replacing the line should be the townís responsibility.

In the past, the town paid for water and sewer improvements with money from its general fund, which is primarily filled by tax dollars. Because Mountain Viewís residents live outside the town limits, they donít pay taxes. Those residents, however, pay a premium for water and sewer service. It has been as much as 50 percent more than town residents paid, but that percentage has dropped gradually. That extra money, Mr. Ridenour argued, should have more than covered the replacement lineís cost.

"Iím disappointed," he said. "I canít believe anybody would want to pay for something thatís already been paid for 30 times over."

Mr. Haller, however, questioned whether that assessment was accurate. He said out-of-town customers historically paid no more than 10 percent more than town residents for water and sewer service until 1998. That extra amount, he said, wasnít as great as the amount of tax dollars spent on the systems.

Mr. Ridenour believed his neighbors donít realize that for some, their costs wonít end with the monthly payment. Many of the older homes on the road may need to have the pipes to their houses replaced. He said that could result in an immediate need to pay as much as $1,700.

Once residents start paying on the water line, Mr. Ridenour and Larry McKenna believe Mountain View customers should pay the same as town residents for their water. The town has established a fund to pay for water and sewer capital projects, and part of what every customer pays each month is funneled into that account.

Mr. McKenna didnít think the residents should have to help pay for the line, but he voted for it because heís tired of having "terrible" water. He said that eliminating the additional amount Mountain View customers pay for water would be "fair and equitable treatment to all parties."

However, heís not optimistic that will happen. He suggested it to the town at one of its water-line meetings, but the commissioners didnít discuss it. Mr. Haller said heís recommended schedules in which in-town and out-of-town rates would become equal, but the board hasnít approved a plan.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government