Cumberland Times-News

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February 1, 2014

Water/sewer projects thrust of PACE talks

Local leaders carry on discussions about grants and loans with state, federal officials

CUMBERLAND — A laundry list of water and sewer projects needing funding was a major focus of meetings between Allegany County commissioners and county staff members and state and federal officials during meetings in Annapolis two weeks ago.

A review of the PACE (Positive Attitudes Change Everything) meetings was given by county staff members to county commissioners Thursday at a work session at county offices on Kelly Road.

County officials met with officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other funding agencies. The city of Frostburg and the towns of Lonaconing and Westernport were also represented at the meetings. The purpose of the discussions was to pursue possible grant and loan funding for water projects. In many cases, Allegany County is under a consent order to upgrade sewer systems.

Commissioner Creade Bro-die Jr. congratulated county staff for doing an excellent job explaining the county’s plans and needs for funding to the state and federal officials.

The discussions have yielded good results in the past. For instance, there are currently $19.6 million in water and sewer projects underway in the county. Of those projects, $13.6 million are grant funded, costing the county no taxpayer funds and not contributing to increases for ratepayers. Some increases do occur when loans are required, county officials said.

Among the projects discussed were the ongoing Rawlings water and sewer project, a McCoole water meter project and the Braddock Run Sanitary District project.

The Braddock Run project, despite low-interest loans and grants, will impact residents financially. The Braddock Run district includes customers in Frostburg, Eckhart, Grahamtown, Clarysville and Consol. Frostburg has the lion’s share of the customers, with 5,336 dwelling units. Another 1,000 units are considered county customers. The county customers will end up paying slightly higher rates.

Phase two of the Rawlings project is slated for completion in the spring, county officials have said.

The second phase of the project will provide water service to about 350 customers.

About $4.2 million of the $5.4 million for the total project, including all phases, will be paid for by grants and low-interest loans.

Rawlings needs complete replacement of its water and sewer system.

The county operates 16 water districts with 5,300 customers and 13 sewer districts with 8,500 customers.

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

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