County officials considering rise in water, sewer rates

February 04, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County residents would see a second water and sewer rate increase in less than a year under a proposal made this week by County Executive Janet S. Owens.

In legislation introduced at Monday's County Council meeting, Owens requested a 7.5 percent rate increase as well as the implementation of fees, public works officials said yesterday.

In July 2003, rates climbed 9 percent, and public works officials told the County Council that they would be back soon requesting another increase.

Before last summer's increase, rates had remained steady since 1994, public works officials said. "It really just helps us break even on the service of providing water and wastewater services," county spokeswoman Pam Jordan said.

The proposed rate changes are scheduled for a public hearing - and a possible vote - at the County Council's March 1 meeting. If they are approved, the charge per 1,000 gallons of water would increase to $2 from $1.86. Also, each customer with a meter would be charged a $6 fee per bill.

Each customer without a meter - mostly those who have wells but use county wastewater services - would be charged a $3 fee per bill. Residential customers pay four bills a year. Businesses pay up to six bills a year, Jordan said.

Assistant Public Works Director Robert Loomis said similar fees were eliminated when the new rates went into effect July 1. He said fees are being re-established to pay for the cost of reading meters, sending bills and providing customer service.

"In hindsight," he said, "we realized we were too generous."

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