Cumberland Times-News

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March 2, 2014

County adds to staff in tax office

Officials OK water project for 10 homes in Mount Savage area

CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners Thursday voted to create a position of assistant supervisor for the tax and utilities office.

The position is anticipated to pay an annual salary of $50,000, according to a memo by Brian Westfall, the county’s personnel director, and is needed to cope with additional utility customers and the requirements of certain programs.

Westfall said the position would not require added staff and would likely be filled by an internal promotion.

“During recent years, an additional 2,000 utility customers have been added to the county water and sewer systems. ... The tax sale program has also grown in both volume and complexity, with strict legal requirements and timelines,” according to Westfall’s memo. There is currently no backup to that department supervisor, Westfall said. The decision took place during the normal commission business meeting.

Commissioners also approved a project to get water service to 10 homes in the Bald Knob area of Mount Savage. The project would cost the county nothing, since the federal Bureau of Mines will provide the funding.

“I’m glad the Bureau of Mines could step up and help these people ... this is a good project,” said Commissioner Creade Brodie Jr.

Past mining operations have hurt the quality of well water in the area, which accounts for the bureau getting involved. The water in the wells does not meet water quality standards. The Bureau of Mines has $500,000 for part of the project on hand and another $500,000 to complete the project is expected. The project will provide not only water service, but better fire protection, county officials said. The residents will become county water customers and pay quarterly service and usage charges.

The county will give $3,000 to support the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament. The money came from the community promotions account, commissioners said.

Brodie also recognized Russel Hensel at the meeting. Hensel recently retired after 37 years of service with the LaVale Sanitary Commission.

Commissioners backed away from a request from the District 1 legislative delegation to prioritize bond bill requests for Friends Aware and the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation. Commission President Mike McKay threw the decision back on the delegation by suggesting to the other commissioners, without dissent, that it is an issue for legislators to decide. The commission made the requests to the delegation.

McKay said the funds being requested are “not county money but state money ... we don’t want to do that.” Both organizations are requesting the state funds for building projects.

Three members of the public spoke at the meeting. Kenneth Wilmot said he is against efforts to decriminalize or legalize marijuana. “I don’t know why you would legalize a drug that fries your brain,” Wilmot said. The General Assembly is considering several marijuana bills this year.

Mary Miltenberger said she was concerned about the continuing debt the county is paying off from the Rocky Gap Lodge and sale of the lodge to a private company. Commissioners said the county had no leverage in the deal the state made for the property. About $400,000 remains to be paid off, county officials said.

Jen Klingler of Creative Catering said she was upset that her company was not awarded the catering contract for the upcoming season of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Her company did the catering for the train last year, she said. Commissioners said the railroad is not controlled by the county and is a not-for-profit entity.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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