Taneytown raises water, sewer fees

June 14, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

After haggling for nearly an hour about water and sewer rates, the Taneytown City Council decided last night to raise the fees 20 cents.

The vote was the only obstacle to approving the fiscal year 1995 budget, which the council accepted as one of its last orders of business.

The city expects to collect and spend $1,938,320, with property taxed at the rate of 78 cents per $100 of assessed value. The fiscal year 1995 budget is 8 percent higher than last year's, with no increase in the city tax rate.

City officials could not approve the budget without deciding the water and sewer rates because that revenue was needed to plug into the proposed budget. After much discussion -- including 30 minutes during a work session Wednesday -- the council voted to raise the water and the sewer rate each from $1.75 per 1,000 gallons to $1.95 for in-city users and $3 for out-of-city users.

The rate change will go into effect with the September billing.

Officials considered the rate increase in anticipation of future improvements that will need to be made to the water and sewer systems.

Russell MacNair, with the city's engineering firm Camp Dresser & McKee Inc., told the council that the city's sludge system needs to be overhauled to comply with new state rules.

Several ideas were discussed, such as the city installing a belt press, a very expensive endeavor. But Mr. MacNair suggested the city look into other options, such as having a nearby waste treatment plant deal with the city's excess sludge, before making any decisions.

Councilman Henry C. Heine Jr., who dissented in the final vote, said he did not think the rate should be raised before the city knew how much the improvements would cost.

"If you do it now, you might be short of what you need later," Mr. Heine said. His motion was defeated 3-2.

Councilman Thomas J. Denike made the motion that eventually was passed.

"I don't think anyone here discounts Russ' opinion that in the next three to five years, we're going to have to do something and it's going to cost money," Mr. Denike said.

The city will get about $26,000 toward improvements from the higher fees, Mr. Denike said.

In other business, city officials adopted a resolution to establish an escrow policy it had been using.

Developers must maintain at least $2,500 in the escrow account as assurance of payment and completion of work, said City Attorney Thomas F. Stansfield.

City Manager John L. Kendall may set the escrow amount, but it may never be set below $2,500, Mr. Stansfield said.

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