Taneytown increases fees for water, sewer service Rate at $2 per 1,000 gallons

$30 quarterly fee approved

July 14, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Taneytown City Council, under pressure from government agencies to generate more income from sewage fees, voted to increase rates last night.

The council raised water and sewer rates from $1.95 to $2 for each 1,000 gallons used. Water and sewer rates for the city's 1,776 customers are combined because the city meters each customer's water use and assumes sewer use to be equal.

City officials expect the 5-cent increase to generate about $10,000 more each year. The money will be used for operation and maintenance expenses, said City Manager Charles "Chip" Boyles.

Taneytown officials anticipate borrowing about $5 million to supplement $1.6 million in grants for a new $6.6 million sewage treatment plant.

The 1.1 million gallon plant will replace a leaking, outdated plant that cannot be expanded because it lies in a flood plain.

The council also approved a new $30 quarterly fee for sewer service. The fee is expected to generate about $213,000 in revenue annually. The income will cover half the cost of loan repayments, Boyles said.

The city plans to generate enough income from impact fees paid by builders of new houses to cover the rest of the loan repayment costs.

The Maryland Department of the Environment has pledged to finance the project.

But Taneytown also is seeking a grant or low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, formerly the Farmers Home Administration, to reduce the amount it would have to borrow from the state for the project.

Rural Development officials have said Taneytown's sewer rates are too low to generate the income needed to repay a loan, Boyles told the council at a work session last week.

"Right now, our average sewer customer pays $150 a year [for a family of four]. The Farmers Home Administration figures it should be $450 a year," Boyles said.

Without funding the agency considers adequate, the Rural Development may deny the city's request for a loan or grant.

Boyles said state environmental officials were also skeptical that the city's repayment plan will generate enough income to meet its loan payments.

Although city officials have received complaints from customers about the higher fees, residents have generally been understanding, said Clerk-Treasurer Linda M. Hess.

"Once I explain, they feel it's reasonable for the council to ask everyone to pay into it," she said.

Boyles said the city staff will produce a brochure explaining the sewer system charges and listing fees charged by other towns in the area.

Pub Date: 7/14/98

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