BERLIN – The Berlin Mayor and Council discussed several topics at their first December meeting Monday night, such as the design of and funding for the town’s new spray irrigation space in Newark, a water rate study and new town-supplied garbage cans for residents.
The council has authorized the beginning of the design process for the new wastewater effluent spray irrigation site in Newark in an attempt to have a design ready this spring for funding applications.
The town will approach the same funding sources that are substantially paying for the improved and expanded wastewater plant.
The deadlines for those funding streams from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Department of the Environment are fast approaching, said town administrator Tony Carson, and work needs to begin.
Funding applications are due at the end of April, Carson said.
“That’s going to be a very aggressive timeframe to ask anybody to come up with a plan,” said Carson.
Carson said the town could ask for an extension on the application deadlines if necessary.
“There still is some very big money out there and we expect some competition. They’ve got to find a way of weeding folks out,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams, which is why Berlin needs to be ready.
Water and Wastewater Director Jane Kreiter said Monday night that the town’s funding partners in the wastewater plant project have been positive about more funding for the spray irrigation facility.
“They were encouraging about money available for town projects,” Kreiter said.
Williams is anxious for the town to get going on the project.
“We need to get the process started,” Williams said. “We’ve got the land. Now we just need the infrastructure.”
The Berlin Utilities Commission also reviewed the first step, a request for qualifications from interested companies this week.
“We’re all under the gun. It’s the way government is working right now,” said Williams.
The mayor also recommended that a committee to evaluate those qualifications be established. Committee members need to have an engineering background to help them assess the qualifications of potential bidders, he said.
The town has commissioned a rate study on water fees, similar to recent work on rates for the expanded and improved sewer plant.
The council approved URS Corp. out of two bidders to handle the rate study work. URS also handled the recent Berlin sewer rate study.
Any new rates resulting from the study would go into effect July 1.
The Berlin Town Council debated the number of new, town-provided trash containers a property may have during Monday night’s council meeting.
A line in the garbage ordinance introduced this week limited dwelling units to six town-provided trashcans.
A single trash container will be provided to each residence with subsequent cans to cost $100 each. A new trash truck the town recently purchased requires the new trash receptacles.
That cost is not a deposit against return.
“It was set up to be non-refundable,” said staffer Mary Bohlen.
Town Administrator Tony Carson said with the new trashcans, which are green, on wheels and feature the town seal, additional expenses will be coming the town’s way.
“There actually is an added cost,” said Carson. “The town is going to be picking up additional refuse so there’s additional tipping fees.”
The added cost for additional trash containers means there will not be any additional surcharges each month, Carson said.
Some people have said they wanted more than the town-supplied single can, Public Works Director Mike Gibbons said.
“We’re issuing one only but there’re a couple people who‘ve requested additional cans,” Gibbons said, with some asking for three total.
“We can limit it if that is your desire,” said Bohlen.
“I don’t think it will be an issue,” said Gibbons.
“It’ll be self-limiting by the charge,” said Williams.
The ordinance, introduced for a first reading at Monday night’s council meeting, originally restricted dwellings to six trash containers per pick-up.
Council member Paula Lynch said fewer trashcans should be handed out to start.
“Otherwise they’ll be rolling everywhere,” Lynch said.
The limit of six bothered her, she said.
The town council agreed to take that number out of the proposed ordinance, but did not vote on the ordinance itself, which will not be up for approval until the first January meeting.
“We’re trying to get out of the business of picking up other receptacles,” said Williams.