by Lisa Tome
Mayors from three of Cecil's municipalities stood their ground and told county officials they expect them to uphold a deal which was inked more than a dozen years ago.
In turn, members of the county council made concessions when approving the 2014 Master Water and Sewer Plan.
Perryville Mayor Jim Eberhardt took on the council during the January 20 work session. Eberhardt said that the towns have invested money in water and sewer projects. The towns have capacity but they also have debt.
"We don't want to be another Detroit," said Eberhardt. He said that if the county approved the Master Water and Sewer Plan as it stood "it will have a detrimental effect on the financial abilities of the municipalities." He also asked numerous questions regarding the franchise and franchise agreements the county has with service providers.
At the evening meeting, officials from Perryville, North East, and Elkton all turned out to have their say.
Town Administrator Melissa Cook-MacKenzie said the Town of North East has been debating water franchise issues with the county for at least a decade. Mayor Robert McKnight stated that in 2000, Cecil County Government adopted the Urban Growth Boundary Plan. In 2002, a Memorandum of Understanding was executed between North East and county government. McKnight said that the franchise agreement and draft plan of the water sewer master plan are contrary to the Urban Growth Boundary Plan.
"I have not spoken to all the towns, but I have spoken to Elkton and Perryville, and all three of us are all still willing and able to meet our responsibilities for our growth areas. Elkton has abundant sewer capacity and is working on water. North East has an abundant water supply, nearly one million gallons, and can easily expand to more. Perryville has both water and sewer. All we are looking for is a partner to work with us," said McKnight. He also said that the franchise agreement hurt the towns xand their ability to meet financial obligations.
Like McKnight, Elkton Mayor Rob Alt is very familiar with that 2002 Memorandum of Understanding. He was mayor at the time and signed it. "The county changed the boundaries without input from the towns. That limits our abilities to grow as a community. It stops our growth," said Alt.
The county adopted the Master Water and Sewer Plan with 20 amendments. The first amendment states that they will include municipal public utilities that the County will cooperate and coordinate with in order to provide adequate water and wastewater service in the county.
"The county is listening. They were unaware of the Urban Growth Boundaries. After Tuesday's meeting I think everyone is on the same page. And I think everyone wants to work together," said Alt.