Higher fees for utilities possible

Increase in water, sewer rates proposed for 2nd consecutive year

Average user would pay $43 more

Carroll County

March 19, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Water and sewer fees for residents using Carroll County's public systems would go up for a second straight year if the county commissioners approve the increases introduced yesterday.

The proposed increases would affect most of the county's 10,180 water and sewer service customers, most of whom live in South Carroll, which includes Eldersburg and Sykesville.

Under the new fee structure, an average household in South Carroll - using 100,000 gallons a year - would pay about $43 more a year for water and sewer service. Heavy users - those who consume more than 160,000 gallons a year - would pay up to $70 more a year. Homeowners in South Carroll currently pay an average of about $200 per year for water and sewer service.

FOR THE RECORD - In an article published Friday, the amount of the yearly water and sewer bill for South Carroll residents was incorrect. Residents pay about $200 quarterly, or $800 a year. The Sun regrets the error.

In Hampstead, where about 2,100 residents are hooked up only to the county sewer system, most customers would see a decrease in their fees based on a formula used by county officials, said county Comptroller Eugene Curfman.

County officials attributed the proposed fee increases to rising costs associated with operating and maintaining the sewer and water systems.

"It's getting to be more of a problem to treat water, and the cost is continuously going up," said Commissioner Perry L. Jones. "There is more demand from [the state Department of the Environment] for treatment."

Each year, the water and sewer fees are re-examined and recalculated to make sure they cover expenses related to operating and maintaining the water and sewer systems for the coming fiscal year, Curfman said.

Included in the recommended budget for the fiscal year that begins in July is about $247,000 to cover increasing utilities debt service and to replace pumps and other components at wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations.

The proposed fee increases will be included at a public hearing on the proposed budget scheduled for May 11.

Last year, the county commissioners approved higher rates for public water and sewer service. Those increases amounted to $120 more for an average customer in South Carroll.

At the time, county officials said that Baltimore City planned to charge Carroll about 9 percent more for the water it takes from the city-owned Liberty Reservoir.

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