Fixing Bloomington’s deteriorating water system was the top request from the Garrett County commissioners to local lawmakers Monday.
“We only have a few specific requests,” said Commissioner Paul Edwards as the county leaders presented 2018 legislative requests at the meeting.
He and Commissioners Jim Hinebaugh and Larry Tichnell asked Sen. George Edwards and Delegate Wendell Beitzel to introduce a bond bill in the amount of $164,000 for the Bloomington Water System project.
The town’s current system includes two aging 60,000-gallon steel tanks, located beside the Bloomington Water Treatment Plant. One of the tanks was recently taken off-line because of severe deterioration. The county plans to replace the two existing tanks with one 150,000-gallon tank at a cost of $547,365.
“A United States Department of Agriculture — Rural Development grant of $410,950 has been obtained, leaving an outstanding cost of $163,415,” Edwards said. “This request is for gap funding to construct a 150,000-gallon water storage tank to serve the town of Bloomington.”
He noted the tank is just one part of the county’s plan to revamp the Bloomington Water System. The treatment plant will also be replaced.
The town’s failing water system was constructed in 1982 by Bloomington Improvement Association Inc., a group of residents seeking a community water system. In 1991, because of operational problems and poor water quality, the association turned it over to the Garrett County Sanitary District, which now owns and operates the system.
The commissioners also asked the lawmakers to introduce legislation to amend the Garrett County Code of Ordinance, Section 30.21, which pertains to advertising for bids and contracts. Currently, the section states that the county commissioners “may not enter into any contract of sale or purchase to which the county is a party where the amount involved under the contract exceeds $15,000, without advertising in one or more newspapers circulated in the county.”
The commissioners would like the minimum level increased from $15,000 to $25,000.
“The change will align the county’s procurement policy with the state’s policy,” Edwards said. “At least three competitive bids would be required for (bids) under $25,000, but they wouldn’t necessarily have to be advertised in the newspaper. It’s a cost-saving measure for us.”
The commissioners asked the local lawmakers to, once again, urge their colleagues to fully restore highway user fund allocations to Maryland counties and towns. In an effort to balance the state’s budget, the allocations were greatly reduced several years ago under the O’Malley administration.
In addition, the commissioners asked the senator and delegate to introduce a bill that would allocate money for the State Lakes Protection and Restoration Fund. The groundwork for the fund was established during last year’s General Assembly session, but no funding was allocated.
“We certainly support funding that fund, and would be willing to help,” Edwards said about introducing a bill.
Sen. Edwards and Delegate Beitzel will hold their annual pre-legislative meeting for the public at 6 p.m. today, Dec. 7, in the Garrett Information Enterprise Center, Room 111, on the Garrett College campus.
The 438th session of the Maryland General Assembly begins in Annapolis on Jan. 10