by James Rada, Jr.
Town Gets Tips to Improve Safety In Electric Department
Tim Lawrence, electric utilities director for the Town of Berlin, gave the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners some advice from his 41 years of work in municipal electric departments on how to improve safety at the Thurmont Electric Department. What most of his advice came down to was making sure that the employees were fully and competently trained.
“You have jobs you can mess up on,” Commissioner Wes Hamrick said. “This is one job you can’t.” That is because the employees are working with high-voltage lines, and a mistake can kill someone.
Berlin has all its linemen complete a state-certified course. The course takes four years to complete, including two weeks of classroom time each year. The linemen have to be certified to do various jobs in the electric department. Berlin’s electric department also issue each employee their own copy of the American Public Power Safety Manual and federal safety guidelines.
Town to Purchase Downtown Property
The Town of Thurmont will use $80,000 in grant funds to purchase the business property at 6 E. Main Street. The town’s goal is to preserve this property and find a business to occupy it. Failing that, they will try to find a public use for it. The belief is that anything that can be done to attract more people downtown will ultimately benefit other downtown businesses.
Colorfest Parking Fees to Increase
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to increase the amount they receive per vehicle parked during Colorfest from $2.00 to $4.00. They will also encourage parking vendors to increase the cost of parking from $10.00 per car to $15.00. However, the amount is ultimately left up to the vendor. The mayor and commissioners also plan to look at increasing the cost of permits for craft vendors.
Town Votes to Fund Little League Field Improvements
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to fund repairs and improvements “critical to the safety and sanitation needs of the Little League fields,” according to Mayor John Kinnaird. The improvements and repairs will be made to the bathrooms. The estimated cost is around $22,112, pending bids for some items. The town will pay for the project using American Rescue Plan funds that it received from the Federal Government.
New Board of Appeals Member
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners appointed Mickey Blank to serve in the open alternate member position on the Thurmont Board of Appeals. He will become a permanent member automatically when the next position opens.
Town Moves Toward Implementing a Stormwater Fee
The Emmitsburg commissioners voted to move forward with possibly implementing a stormwater fee that would cost most residents $20.00 a year. The revenue from the fee would be used to pay for water-related projects required as part of an unfunded Federal Government mandate. With the unanimous vote, the town and state will look at how the fee can implemented.
The town has completed all of the affordable projects that can be done. However, more needs to be done to meet the federal goal. It is estimated $1.4 million will be needed between fiscal years 2023 (which begins July 1) and 2028. Even with grant funding, it is expected the town will still need to pay around $700,000 for the needed work. The restoration projects that need to be done are: Northgate stormwater management basin; North Seton Avenue Green Street; increased street sweeping; 12 acres of tree plantings with StreamLink.
These actions are needed to reduce and eliminate pollution from run-off that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. If the municipalities don’t meet the federal goals, they can be heavily fined.
A stormwater fee is not required under the mandate, but many municipalities are using it as a way to pay for the projects that do need to be done under the mandate. Maryland has 17 municipalities doing this, including Frederick City.
According to the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland, the average single-family residential stormwater fee nationwide is $5.94 per month or $71.28 annually, compared to the proposed $20.00 fee for Emmitsburg.
The proposal calls for a three-tier fee. Parcels less than 1,466 square feet would pay $10.00 annually. Parcels greater than 4,398 square feet would have a calculated fee. Parcels between 1,466 and 4,398 square feet would pay the $20.00 fee. The proposal is projected to generate about $34,850, annually.
Town Can’t Do Anything About Eyesore Property
Because of complaints about the condition of the property at 507 E. Main Street, the Emmitsburg Commissioners and town staff have been exploring options for what can be done about it. The town was not able to work with the owner to rectify the situation, so an administrative search warrant was obtained to inspect the property. Although it does not look pretty, the property was found to be structurally sound. This means the town cannot deem it a “dangerous and hazardous building.” It also means that the town cannot do anything about the building.
New Town Office Sign Approved
The Emmitsburg Commissioners approved the design of a new sign for the town office that will be placed on South Seton Avenue. Now, bids will be solicited for the construction and installation of the sign.
New Board of Appeals Member
During their March town meeting, the Emmitsburg Commissioners accepted the resignation of Levi Essess from the Emmitsburg Board of Appeals and appointed Scott Frager to the open position for a term that will run through February 17, 2023.