(2/19) Members of the board of commissioners said
Tuesday night that they intend to budget $1.2 million in the next fiscal year
to repair the town's troubled sewer system, an increase of about $1 million .
The dollar figure was part of a preliminary report the
town received from ARRO Consulting Inc., the Hagerstown engineering firm hired
to perform a detailed examination of the system. ARRO figured the town will
have to pay at least $925,000 to complete a list of 20 repairs. The estimate
rose to more than $1.06 million when a 15 percent contingency was added.
More than 68 percent of the cost was tied to three
big-ticket items. Lining an existing 8-inch main will cost about $297,000,
replacing a 6-inch house connection was estimated at $218,000, and replacing a
different 8-inch main carries a $120,000 price tag.
"There's no smoking gun," Commissioner Glenn Muth said
of the firm's findings. "... There's $1 million worth of little things" that
the town can do.
The cost estimate was included in a preliminary report
that cited specific problems found to date. The firm's employees found cracks,
broken pipes, leaks, and root infiltration into the system, among other
The examination was commissioned because, during heavy
rains, the town's system is prone to filling with water flooding some basements
with raw sewage. About a dozen homes were flooded on a single day last May,
prompting the board to hire ARRO and promise aggressive action to fix whatever
problems were found.
Rick May, the town's clerk-treasurer, said Wednesday
that the town is pursuing grants and/or loans to pay the immediate costs of the
repairs. Loans would be repaid by money generated by increased user and
The town budgeted more than $187,000 for infiltration
and inflow projects this fiscal year, which ends June 30. About $60,000 of that
amount remains available and willbe redirected toward the repairs.
Ron Bishop, whose home was one of those flooded with
sewage in May, looked at the report for sever-al minutes, then assailed the
town's past efforts to fix its sewer system. He claimed many of the problems
listed would have been prevented if the town had properly trained employees,
followed a basic preventative-maintenance program, or gave its employees the
tools needed to do their job.
Mayor Martin Burns responded by saying the town's staff
is competent, that it spent considerable money on infiltration and inflow
projects in recent years, and that the department gets the equipment it
Mr. Bishop also assailed the board, saying the
commissioners have blamed families threatening to sue Thurmont for the town's
fiscal woes and claiming the town has "turned their backs" on the affected
The mayor, however, responded that while the potential
litigation is part of the reason for the fiscal crisis, board members haven't
blamed the residents for their problems. Also, rather than ignoring the
problem, he said that town staff members have prevented the homes from flooding
again and that the board will begin repairs as soon as the money is available.
"I hope that when everything's fixed," Mr. Burns said,
"we can say we're not going to have this problem again."
Earlier in the meeting, Commissioner Bill Blakeslee
informed the board that the Frederick County Board of Commissioners reportedly
is considering delaying construction of an addition to Thurmont Primary School
until at least 2007. He encouraged residents who disapprove of the delay to
write the commissioners and attend two key public hearings in May.
The commissioners also continued to go over proposed
town charter revisions with members of the committee that worked to rewrite the
The major discussion point was the committee's
recommendation that a unanimous vote be required to hire an attorney or law
firm to represent the town. Only a majority decision is required now.
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