Sewer & Water Fund Awash in $487,000 Debt

The water and sewer commission report Monday noted the city's continuing struggles with its water and sewer fund debt.

Garrett Lyttle joked that he feels like the Grinch each December, providing City Council and staff with the financial report from the water and sewer commission.

"The Grinch" delivered the news of a near-half-million-dollar debt in "Fund 9" during .

For all the negatives that come from the report, Lyttle was thanked repeatedly by City Council members for his efforts with the commission, which is viewed as one of the more thankless resident-driven commissions within the city.

For Lyttle's full report, see the PDF included with this post.

George Helm December 21, 2011 at 05:53 PM
He was joking and was thanked by the council? I'm suprised he wasn't awarded a bonus right on the spot!
Biller's Bikes December 21, 2011 at 06:19 PM
Mr. Lyttle is a citizen volunteer doing the best he can do within his commission to manage a difficult challenge. Mr. Helm, you always have a snide comment for anyone, anywhere, on every Patch bureau, everyday. You are a negative person that needs a hobby. Thank you Mr. Lyttle for your time and report on the water situation. Happy Holidays, Mr. Grinch!
George Helm December 21, 2011 at 06:25 PM
That fine as I don't mind and find your comments always very liberal and out of touch with reality!
Tom Fitzpatrick December 22, 2011 at 03:50 PM
The nearly half million dollar shortfall is really much smaller than it appears, owing to an unfunded emergency capital fund, and the critical need to replace the two inlet valves that are 58 years old. Mr Lytle is the affable bearer of very bad news, but none of this is new. We have been aware of all these things for some time now, and we've done nothing but kick the can down the road. it was good to see the Commission offer some reccomendations, Perhaps the most chilling part of the report are these words regarding the $1.7 million loan that the city has been coasting on. "these proceeds are no longer available to the city." "
George Helm December 22, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Tku Lee, I'm glad someone shares my humor! Reply from the grinch in the mirror I do take with a grain of salt and understand that if a liberal doesn't agree with a comment or an opinion they immediately resort to a personal attack! Merry XMAS from the accussed grinch!
Curtis Coon December 29, 2011 at 02:21 PM
If the 58 year old inlet valves or one of them fails, we will all experience first hand the adverse effect of kicking the can down the road. I do not understand -- I hope those in City Hall have a backup plan -- but the report from Mr. Lytle indicates our water supply could be jeopardized.....to me, this is unacceptable. I would like to hear what the contingent operation would be if one or both valves failed.
Roland December 29, 2011 at 04:37 PM
This is no joke! There's a reason why fund 9 is in debt. Could be those that operate the entity depend on funds from unrealistic sources. Could be that the head honchos have outrageous incomes. Could be those in charge have no idea what they are doing, in the sense of running a business. Could be the money is being mishandled. Whatever the reason you can bet your next paycheck the city council will want to have the taxpayers make up the difference. That is unacceptable! I am told that the fund by law cannot draw from other funds. So why can't the law be changed? Is it because it’s easier to just pass the problem onto the water/sewer user? Those in charge of fund 9 need to get a grip and either come up with a plan that doesn’t rob the pocket of the citizen or step down and let someone else with successful business experience give it a try.
George Helm December 29, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Havre de Grace is part of Harford County the last time I checked! Since our county has a 32 mill surplus wouldn't part of this money be well spent to help this situation. I would think this is what our taxes are for although kicking the can is not acceptable in any case! Step up Harford County!
Curtis Coon December 29, 2011 at 06:04 PM
The Commission is made up of very saavy businesspeople who know what they're doning. That's a fact. No one has a salary dependent on the application of water and sewer funds. No one is a "fat cat" or stupid, either. If you think this to be the case, I suggest you invite them over for dinner and you'll see they are hard-working people who, even if paid a modest stipend from the City, do a yeoman's job and are rarely, if ever, thanked for their devotion. That said, the issue is that the City suffers from depression of housing starts. Each start represents about twenty-five grand to the Fund for capital improvements/debt. Though the economy is suffering, lots of houses are being built in places like Beechtree, which as hookup fees that are a mere fraction of those imposed by HdG. Question: would it be better to get more homes built and put online for a lesser, more competitive hookup fee, or is it better to have a half million dollar deficit and maintain a plant that has lots of excess capacity???? If we don't get the hookups, and we won't as long as we're twice as expensive, the only place the money can come from is the wallet of the current water users.
Bill Lawson December 29, 2011 at 08:47 PM
While I don’t fully understand how budgets work, I know that no one can predict with absolute certainty what something will cost one year from now. So budgets are predictions not absolutes. I am of the opinion that if our local government has excess funds in one area; that those funds should be applied to the area with a shortfall of funds. After all, our government is made up of people. People are imperfect so our government is imperfect. The Patch reported earlier in December that Harford County had a 32 million dollar surplus of funds that it was planning on giving away to its employees. I am sure that the employees are more than deserving of that bonus. But isn’t this Sewer & Water Fund a bill? Don’t bills have to be paid? This is like the household budget that has allocated a $200 a month to entertainment and $100 a month to electricity. When the electric bill comes in at $150 they don’t pay the electric bill since it’s over budget. But missing their Tuesday night movie in Bel Air is simply out of the question.


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