From the Mayor's Desk
2003 Rock Hall-Kent County Waste Water Treatment Agreement-Lose It, Don�t Use It
June 8, 2014
Every Rock Hall taxpayer should heed the red line drawn in the sand by Kent County attorney/County Administrator, Ernie Crofoot in the June 4 edition of the KCN. Mr. Crofoot states very authoritatively that Kent County will not pay the Town of Rock Hall any additional fees for waste water treatment than what was established by an agreement struck in 2003. What provider of goods and services these days does not review and adjust your contract to reflect changing costs, increased fees, and the volatility of the economy? The power company? The phone company? Your insurance company? Rock Hall is a vendor, Kent County is a vendee. Try telling Delmarva or Verizon that you are not going to pay for their services! It is audacious of Mr. Crofoot to assume that an eleven year old agreement that has never been reviewed will reflect the social, economic, and fiscal changes that have occurred in Rock Hall and Kent County over eleven years.
The 2003 document is a simple agreement that is dealing with an increasingly complex relationship between Rock Hall and Kent County. Commissioner Fithian, and attorney Charles MacCleod, have Mr. Crofoot�s back on this one, speaking as one voice, that the original 2003 agreement is legal. This argument is a distraction from the real issues. In simple language, the 2003 agreement requires that Kent County pay Rock Hall for treatment of waste water, based proportionally on the total expenses incurred by Rock Hall, for the operations and maintenance of the Rock Hall waste water treatment plant. The total cost of operations of Rock Hall�s plant in 2013 was $472,000. Kent County calculated their payment to Rock Hall based on a $227,000 total cost. Obviously, many real cost items are excluded by Kent County in the payment structure.
The Total Cost issue is not the only flaw in the 2003 agreement. The agreement calls for an annual audit of all records from Kent County as well as a review of the agreement every five years. None of this has happened. The result of this lack of oversight is the loss of thousands of dollars of revenue for Rock Hall and the threat of raising taxes and utility rates to Rock Hall residents to cover the budget shortfall. While Rock Hall struggles to balance a budget, Kent County is able to give residents a cost reduction for water and sewer. It is cheaper to flush a toilet in Edesville, Spring Cove, Allen�s Lane, Green Lane, Piney Neck, and Skinners Neck- all county areas that are treated by Rock Hall- than it is in Rock Hall.
Rock Hall does not need new taxes and utility rate increases. We do need a new waste water treatment contract with Kent County. We do need administrative leadership that protects Rock Hall�s interests. Will it be Town Manager Fithian or Commissioner Fithian? He cannot be a neutral bystander. The Rock Hall Council recently voted to review the 2003 contract. Councilman Jones and Councilman Price voted not to review it. Attorney MacCleod appears to march in lockstep with Commissioner/Town Manager Fithian and Attorney Crofoot. Community feedback favors a complete review.
Mayor Bob Willis
Rock Hall, Maryland