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Cost of troubleshooting its sewer system continues to rise

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(10/14/2003) The cost of troubleshooting its sewer system continues to rise, but the town seems to be getting results.

ARRO Consulting Inc., the Hagerstown engineering firm searching for the cause of several sewer backups this year, has completed the televised inspection work the town contracted. However, the company has identified other potential problem areas and wants to check out another 3,400 linear feet.

The commissioners, already strapped by a tight budget, discussed other options. However, at Tuesday night’s board meeting, they unanimously decided that the extra $9,350 worth of work should be worthwhile.

The board also voted to pay $7,000 for extra manhole inspection work, but it withheld the remainder of the $15,400 that ARRO billed for the 11 days it took to complete the job. Commissioner Ron Terpko questioned whether a clause in the contract capped the town’s liability to $7,000 for the additional inspection time.

"I don’t want to play hardball with them," Mr. Terpko said. "But I believe they should have the common courtesy to tell us they’re going over." Gary Dingle, water superintendent for the town, said the company definitely worked all 11 days. The commissioners agreed to let staff members discuss the matter with the project manager before making a decision. While work continues, a damaged pipe that caused an estimated 8,000 gallons of water to enter the system daily has been repaired. Mr. Dingle said builders in the Pleasant Acres subdivision drove rebar through a 4-inch pipe, creating a significant infiltration problem.

In other action, the commissioners decided against extending the town’s corporation tax on personal property to unincorporated entities. It was debated because a business owner questioned the fairness of taxing one type of enterprise and not taxing another.

Rick May, the town’s clerk-treasurer, conservatively estimated that taxing unincorporated businesses would bring in about $4,000. He said previous boards had considered the tax but decided against it, and that pattern continued as the board was reluctant to pass a tax mostly affecting the town’s tiniest businesses.

"It’s just another burden on the small guy," Commissioner Wayne Hooper said. The board also voted to change the calendar, sort of. Trick-or-treat activities will be held on Oct. 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., instead of Halloween night.

The switch was suggested by Police Chief Terry Frushour because Oct. 31 is a Friday this year and traffic is greater on town streets on Friday evenings. Mr. Terpko also noted that Catoctin High School has a home football game that night.

Also, two forums have been set for candidates for seats on the board of commissioners. The Lions Club, a frequent sponsor of election forums, will hold its event on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Thurmont Senior Center. Another forum has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at the town office. Election Day is Oct. 27. Bill Blakeslee, Frank Kurtz and Glenn Muth and incumbent Kenneth Oland are vying for two open seats, and referendum votes on three charter amendments will be on the ballot.

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