Hurlock to sell bonds for water main project

Hurlock, Maryland
HURLOCK — At the March 14 town meeting the council voted to approve Ordinance 2016-1 that allows the town to enter into a bond agreement for the water main construction project. Attorney Robert Merriken read the ordinance, drafted by a bond attorney, which approves the General Obligation Installment Bond that was introduced on Feb. 22 to cover costs of construction and rehabilitation of the current water main with a principal amount not to exceed $1,110,000. The replacement and repair of the water main has already begun on Main Street.
Mr. Merrick explained that the town finances major projects by selling bonds. Town Administrator John Avery explained that a $500,000 bond taken out several years ago was paid off last month. The early payoff, $147,000, will save the town about $29,000 in interest. He noted that Ordinance 2016-1 is “exactly the same process.” The administrator said the interest rate is 2.125 percent and slightly under $5,000 in monthly payments. The police station loan payback is about $5,000 monthly.

An “aye” vote on Resolution 2016-1 authorized the town to reimburse expenditures that have already been incurred for the police station and the water main replacement projects. The “soft costs” for engineering could be added to the loan if the town wanted to reimburse itself for the construction costs. However, Mr. Avery said that would increase the loan, “which we don’t want to do.”

Hurlock Mayor Joyce Spratt reported that on April 2 fire hydrants will be flushed and suggested residents should not wash clothing that day. Annual Spring Clean Up Day is slated for April 16 with roll-offs for residents’ trash available near the police station; April 14 and 21 are free bulk pick-up days and citizens should call the town office to register. May 20 promises to be a big day! The new police station is slated for a grand opening and ribbon cutting at 2 pm.

Police Chief Michael Henry noted, “February was a busy month for us.” He said the department received 570 calls for service: 24 reports included theft, property damage, counterfeit currency, and automobile theft. He said three adults and two juveniles were arrested.
Dorchester County Councilman Rick Price reported that if the town wants to include a request for inclusion in the FY2017 budget, letters of request describing the project plus contact information should be sent to the county manager and/or the council. He said the council will be considering amendments to the county waste management plan which includes the vertical expansion of the Beulah landfill. The county is waiting for a response from the Governor’s office “for some direction based on the zero waste legislation that came in under Gov. O’Malley.” While there is no final decision the council will discuss the issue at one of the two April meetings. April 5 is the annual meeting with municipalities about the tax differential.

Councilman Charles Cephas said during council comments, “I had a citizen approach me today about the water and sewer cost reduction that I discussed at the last meeting. They were under the impression that I said I wanted meters. But that’s incorrect. It was about how we could reduce the rates.” He said town officials “have to plan; to look at the current way we do the calculations for the water and sewer.” He added that counting the number of cold water spigots in a home may not be a fair way to charge. And, the new high school will bring added costs to citizens as well. “All the municipalities are going to be hit with a portion of the pie,” he said.

Another rumor was put to rest after resident Jack Lewis asked if his community, Woods Edge, pays “more than other parts of the town.” Both Mayor Spratt and Mr. Avery answered emphatically, “Absolutely not.” Ms. Spratt said, “That would be illegal.” Mr. Avery explained if “somebody has 10 cold water taps on N. Main St. and somebody has 10 taps in Woods Edge the charge is exactly the same.”

Administrator Avery reassured “everybody here and in the town that the mayor and I work every day to reduce costs.” He said the just approved 2.125 percent obligation bond could be reduced to 1.99 percent. “We constantly do everything we can to use taxpayer money the best way we can. In the last four years we have paid off over $300,000 a year in loan and interest payments. We are incurring about $100,000 a year between the two new loans we are making. Those loans have no pre-payment penalties and can be paid off early. If we can do that, we will do that … Between the two projects we are doing $3 million worth of improvements to the town.”

In July and October of 2014 Councilman Cephas raised the issue of young people roaming the town late at night. He asked the Mayor and Council to consider a recreation center for youth; and, a curfew for youngsters. Currently the charter’s Section 6-202 holds parents and guardians responsible for minors who violate an existing 10 pm-5 am curfew.
He mentioned it again at the March 14 meeting and asked the council to re-consider a curfew for youth this summer. “Trouble is starting early,” he said, and a carefully thought out system would “not hurt anyone.” Councilman Earl Murphy suggested that a generic curfew template created by the Maryland Municipal League (MML) could be used as a foundation.

In response to a citizen who questioned Ccouncilman Murphy about citizen input in budget work sessions, Mayor Spratt explained, “Before we have a meeting with the council on the (FY2017) budget we’ll have an open work session … ” She and Mr. Murphy noted that suggestions by residents can be submitted at any time. “We’ll take those ideas and discuss them in an open work session.”

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