Millington says county owes it for leaked water
CHESTERTOWN — The Millington water leak controversy appears no closer to a resolution following a meeting of town representatives with the Kent County Commissioners Tuesday.
Mayor C.J. Morales and councilmen David Rice and Kevin Hemstock presented the town’s case. The issue, which has been simmering for a number of years, is water leaks between the town water system and unincorporated properties in the county that are served by the municipality. Town officials say the cost of the lost water is putting an unacceptable burden on the municipal budget.
Morales said when the town brought the issue to the commissioners two years ago, the commissioners asked for time to review it. He brought in a statement showing the county’s usage from 2013 to the present, and presented a bill for some $87,000 he said the county owes.
Attorney Tom Yeager, representing the county, asked if the agreement between the town and the county speci- fied the terms of the billing. He said the county was not expecting a bill when it scheduled the meeting.
Rice said the agreement specifies the cost of Equivalent Dwelling Units allocated to the county. He said the town installed a meter to measure the amount of water being delivered to the county.
Commission President William Pickrum said the agreement doesn’t make any reference to a meter.
Morales said former county director of public works Wayne Morris told the town to install the meter.
Commissioner Ron Fithian asked if the town agreed there are leaks on both sides of the meter.
Rice agreed that there are leaks on both sides. He said the entire system is faulty.
Fithian said the leaks need to be fixed before the controversy can be settled. “You fix yours, we’ll fix ours, then we’ll see what’s happening,” he said.
Hemstock said the town has fixed most of its leaks, but the county hasn’t. He said the argreement requires the county to fix the leaks.
County Administrator Shel- ley Heller said the county has spreadsheets showing it has put money into repairing the system.
“What about our cost?” Morales said. He said the town was considering legal action.
“As soon as we fix the leaks and see what the difference is, we’ll take care of it,” Fithian said.
After more back and forth about the terms of the agreement, Yeager said the con- tract specifies that the county’s share of the bill relates to the number of EDUs actually connected, not the number allocated.
Rice said that gave the town a better figure to work from. He said he would follow it up.
In Other Business:
• Heller gave an update on the county’s wireless tower at the courthouse, which was closed for climbing be- cause of safety concerns. She said she reached out to several engineering consultants to get a price for a structural analysis, which she said will probably cost about $10,000.
In response to requests by Delmarva WiFi for permission to climb the tower to maintain its equipment, she said, Yeager has drafted a hold harmless agreement stating that anyone who wants to climb the tower does so at their own risk, absolving the county of liability. She said every individual climber would need to sign the agreement.
• Scott Boone, director of information technology, gave an update on the fiber-optic installation in the county. He said installation is “weeks ahead of schedule” with much of the county already installed.
Boone relayed a proposal from FTS Fiber, the contractor on the project, to reduce the size of the fiber cable on three legs of the network that serve less populated areas. He said FTS could easily upgrade the installation if demand proves higher than expected. In return, he said, FTS would connect more county facilities to the network.
Pickrum said he preferred to stick to the original agreement because the population patterns in the county could change over the life of the project. However, he said he would be willing to look at a more detailed proposal. “Come back with a plan and we’ll consider it,” he said.
• Sabine Harvey, horticulture assistant at University of Maryland Extension, brought the commissioners a basket of fresh vegetables and flowers grown in the community garden at Kent County Middle School as a sample of what her programs are doing.
Harvey outlined several of the projects she has led, including one at the Worton Elementary School summer session in which the students made salad from vegetables they grew and another that taught students to grind corn and make tortillas. She also mentioned an upcoming program at Chestertown Town Hall, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15, on the cabbage family, which includes a wide variety of vegetables.
Master gardener Sabine Harvey, at left, brings flowers and vegetables from the Kent County Middle School garden to the Kent County Commissioners’ meeting, Oct. 25. Harvey reported on programs she has presented for the University of Maryland Extension to show students and other residents the benefits of growing their own vegetables.