SNOW HILL – As the start of construction looms nearer, county officials agreed this week to set up an escrow account for the new Berlin library.
The Worcester County Commissioners agreed to set up a $2,500 escrow account to cover the cost of plan reviews for the library to be built on Harrison Avenue.
“This results from a request from the Town of Berlin,” said Bill Bradshaw, the county’s engineer.
According to Bradshaw, the town asked the Worcester County Library to set up an escrow account to cover the costs associated with plan reviews for the new Berlin branch. Though the initial amount has been set at $2,500, as the account is depleted additional funds will be requested.
“The town requires developers to bear the cost of their projects,” Berlin Town Administrator Laura Allen wrote in a letter to Worcester County Library Director Jennifer Ranck. “The escrow account would be used by the town to pay for the cost of reviewing plans, preparing estimates, purchasing materials and installing services.”
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic pointed out that when the Ocean City branch had been built, the Town of Ocean City had waived permit fees associated with the project.
“I’m curious, as this is certainly a benefit to the Town of Berlin, why they wouldn’t think about waiving the permit costs,” he said.
Bradshaw pointed out that Berlin used third party contractors to handle the reviews and inspections.
“My understanding is their permit fees are subcontracted,” Bradshaw said, “like third party inspectors. Even their town engineer is a contracted firm they pay directly.”
Commissioner Ted Elder said he was concerned that there was no limit on how much would eventually be put into the account.
“I’d like to have some kind of idea of what we’re signing on to,” he said.
Bradshaw said the town had already donated $75,000 to the project and was anxious to see it proceed. In addition to asking for the escrow account, he said the town had also advised the county that it would need to transfer an unused EDU from the North Worcester County Senior Center to the library.
“The town says there’s no charge associated with that transfer,” Bradshaw said.
He said that the county had previously transferred another of the senior center’s unused EDUs to the nearby dental clinic.
The commissioners agreed to approve both requests associated with the Berlin library. Construction of the new $6.4 million facility is expected to begin later this year. The state-of-the-art two-story building will feature expanded space for books and programs as well as meeting space for the community.