Secretary Council ‘finds’ money to repair water tank

SECRETARY — Secretary officials announced at the Oct. 6 town meeting they recently signed a contract with Southern Corrosion Engineered Tank Care to repair and maintain the town’s 150,000 gallon water tank. The company will shortly begin removing rust and corrosion on and in the elevated tank and by spring will paint the tank. Before the contract could be finalized the town had to find $15,000 in start-up costs that were not in the budget.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. Town Clerk Yvonne Pritchett suggested bundling a previous loan with the needed amount. With $12,760.70 remaining in the old loan, the bank added the required amount and renegotiated a new loan for $27,760.70 at 3.51 percent. The monthly payment over the next four years will be $616.89, less than the $629.03 the town is now paying and the loan will be repaid. Mayor Susan Dukes said, “We’re still adhering to the budget with a little less payment than before.” Annually, $15,000 will be included in budgets for each of the next 10 years.

Dredging the town’s marina is moving along despite some unexpected delays, primarily in the environmental approvals arena. Per Department of Natural Resources (DNR) liaison Sandi Pepe, there are still loose ends to tie-up before approval is granted. The loose ends are similar to an old-fashioned alphabet soup: The town needs final Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) approval at the county landfill, an NOI (Notice of Intent) and SDE (Shallow Dose Equivalent of radiation) control.

Mayor Dukes noted Ms. Pepe said approvals should be ready for a pre-final review soon. Funding for the new Twin Cities Waste Water Treatment Plant is proving elusive at the moment. At the Oct. 6 County Council meeting, attended by legislators to hear county and municipal concerns, Mayor Dukes and Commissioner Henry Short laid out the case for funding the new plant. Ms. Dukes explained that the town has obtained $9 million of the required $14 million. She noted, “It’s not all assured but right now it looks like we’ll have the $9 but we still need another $5 million.” She asked the legislators to research some funding for the town.

A promising source is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

The state-run, HUD sponsored program requires that “each CDBG-funded activity must either principally benefit low- and moderate-income persons, aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or meet a community development need having a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community and other financial resources are not available to meet that need. With respect to activities that principally benefit low and moderate income persons, at least 51 percent of the activity’s beneficiaries must be low and moderate income.”

The 2010 census shows Secretary and East New Market, TCWWTP participants, are in the 40th percentile and need to be in the 50th percentile to qualify. When Mayor Dukes asked to resurvey Secretary and East New Market residents the request was denied. Mayor Dukes said, “They said they weren’t going to allow the towns to do a survey to prove they have a higher percentage of low to moderate income than the census shows because the data would be “too new.’”

Ms. Dukes did receive permission from the agency and mobile home park owner to survey residents of the park on Rt. 16 in East New Market and hopefully change the percentage to the required 50 percent. The CDBG representative noted, however, that the survey cannot be done until January 2016 when Ms. Dukes must call the agency to learn what criteria she may use. She said, “There is the possibility of some CDBG money, but I wouldn’t count on it.” She hopes area representatives of the General Assembly “will come up with something that we can’t.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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