What should be done about the water-sewer fund deficit, and what do you think about the idea of a Harford County Regional Water and Sewer Authority?
Havre de Grace City Council hopefuls answered these questions at a recent candidate forum hosted by the Ontario-Otsego Positive Action Committee (OPAC).
Here's what the candidates said, in the order that they responded at the forum:
Bill Martin: "We make money selling water. We have no problem with cost....What makes the mortgage payments [on the water treatment plant] is new construction builds. We budgeted 100 homes to be built in last year’s budget but only came in with 31 homes. We’ve been introduced to phase one of the water authority study. Our share is $83,000. It’s kind of like a poker game. Even if we don’t go into this agreement [and join the water authority], we still get valuable analysis. Personally, I’m not [in favor of joining]. Once the housing market picks up again...when Bulle Rock is built out and Greenway Farms is built out, we should see a water rate reduction....Maybe the trend is to push small towns into authorities...[but] I’d like to see what phase two of the study brings out, [and] think if we still hold tight...we’ll be able to [lower the rate]."
David Glenn: "We didn’t count on the economy tanking, and it tanked, so we have a considerable debt....I can’t vote for a 20-percent [water-sewer rate] increase. We’ve been burning the midnight oil...[trying to figure out] how can we overcome that. Given the current debt, we felt an obligation to go forward [with phase two of the study].
Robert Robinson: "I believe...a bigger voice may help us build a better water plant. I think we need more voice from Harford County to help. We have water—we have the main water source in the county [the Susquehanna River], and they’re depending on us for this water source, but we need...to conserve water in order to keep your water bills down. That will help you in the long run.”
Steve Gamatoria: "[There are] things we can do to push the building so we can pay the debt....Maybe we could push developers in a direction to make something that's more attractive...maybe restructure the fees so it’s not a huge nut up front....I take some of the blame....The model was based [on past water-sewer commission work, which I was on in 2006]. I never saw 2008 coming to the degree that it did....They’re going to do a full inventory of what we’ve got [in the regional study]. We’ve got one of the best wastewater plants in the state, and it’s ridded with debt....It’s going to be a give and take. [We need to get the] data back, and make the decision [about joining the regional water authority] go to referendum."
Four candidates are running for three seats on the Havre de Grace City Council. The election will be Tuesday, May 6.
Citizens can vote from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Patrick Hall, in the 600 block of Pennington Avenue.