Council May Raise Fees To Hook Up Water, Sewer

Home Builders Protestthe Rate Increase

June 23, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Fallston home builder Joseph Chenowith is worried that proposed water and sewer system development fees, combined with a new tree preservation law and other building regulations, could cost him an additional $10,900 for each house he builds.

Chenowith was one of only two people to testify at a County Council hearing Tuesday on the proposalto add $2,517 to the cost of hookups to the county's water and sewersystems.

The system development fees would be assessed on a per hookup basis. Those new fees would be charged in addition to the standard $1,650 connection fee new customers must pay to connect to county water and sewer lines.

Under the proposal, the system development fees would be charged on a one-time basis to properties that have not received a building permit as of Dec. 31, 1991.

George Shehan, president of the Maryland Home Builders Association, was the other person testifying on the proposal. Shehan said that the Baltimore metropolitan area is the worst among the Southern states in terms of housing affordability.

"You asked me whether I'm for or against the fees, but I'dlike to evade that question," said Shehan. "The building industry recognizes that it must pay for the costs it creates, but we're not at all happy about increasing the cost of housing."

In addition to creating system development fees, the bill

before the council also would raise an annual user assessment fee from $70 to $140. New customers would pay that fee each year for 25 years.

The fee would not apply to county residents or business owners who own their buildings or are issued a building permit before Dec. 31.

The council could vote on the bill as early as July 2.

"It's important to note that residents who are currently paying $70 a year will continue to do so,"said Larry Klimovitz, county director of administration. "This increase is so new residents can pay their way for the development of facilities the new growth requires."

County Treasurer James M. Jewell has estimated the water system development fee alone would raise $800,000 for the county in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The sewersystem development fee would generate about $1.5 million in the sameperiod, Jewell said.

The money from the system development fees and the user assessment fee would be used to pay principal and interest on the $22 million the county expects to borrow this fall in the bond market to pay for water and sewer projects, Jewell said.

Countyadministrators say there are about $100 million worth of water and sewer projects needed to keep pace with the county's residential growth. Among the planned projects are the expansion of the Sod Run sewagetreatment plant and a tap into Baltimore City's aqueduct, which runsthrough the county from the Susquehanna River to the city.

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