With purchases imminent, county keeps EDU system

(April 24, 2015) After hearing the results of a Municap study during their first meeting in April, and evaluating funding options for EDUs in an effort to spark more development in the Riddle Farm area, the commissioners first sent the matter to the Water and Sewer Commission, who made a recommendation the board ignored at first, but later relented under pressure from lawyers.

The recommendation was to keep the existing system and rates in place.

In 2014 the commissioners hired Columbia, Md. consulting firm Municap, Inc., to review the situation and provide options other than the current cash on the barrelhead structure.

Municap presented three options, the first of which was, naturally, to keep the existing system in place.

The second implements tax increment financing, which assumes an interested tenant would pay the $18,600 price and would allow the county to recapture its $5,000 share through the increase in property tax revenue the business would hopefully generate.

Municap acknowledged the cost to the county with the counterpoint being if the development opportunity was lost, no tax increase would be possible anyway.

The third option would allow the EDU purchaser to either pay the entire cost up front, or finance the county’s $5,000 portion over 20 years as a special, interest-bearing, tax.

Through discussion at the Water and Sewer Commission, Commissioner President M. Jim Bunting said another option emerged as an enhanced version of the third option.

Hearing all this, Commissioner A. Chip Bertino made a motion to keep the existing system, which died due to lack of a second.

County Attorney J. Sonny Bloxom stepped in.

He said there are developers “very interested in moving forward, and the longer this goes on the more delay is created.”

Mark Cropper, attorney for Goody Taylor, the private portion of the public/private partnership created to manage the water and sewer of Riddle Farm, was invited to speak.

“It’s imperative I make myself abundantly clear. My client has always supported what Bill Badger could do to support the development of these properties. The mere consideration [of a price adjustment] is enough for certain property owners to put things off. Mr. Bloxom is correct, finality is key,” Cropper said.

Bloxom continued.

“His client has a purchaser for 60 EDUs, and the longer this drags out the longer it’s going to take,” Bloxom said.

Bertino renewed his motion to keep the existing full freight EDU purchase structure, which the board then accepted unanimously.

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