County set to raise fees for septic installations

Cost of permits also to rise for public pools, food services

June 26, 2005|By Grant Huang | Grant Huang,SUN STAFF

Installing a septic system in Anne Arundel County will soon be a lot more expensive.

On Friday, the county Department of Health will increase its fees for environmental health services such as permits for installing septic systems and operating public pools and restaurants.

The costs for providing such services have increased significantly in the past decade, and the county had not compensated with fee increases, said Elin Jones, a department spokeswoman. The fees were last raised in 1995.

"This increase is not going to match the total cost of providing the services, but it is going to make it much closer," Jones said.

The Health Department should have increased the fees incrementally, rather than face resentment from residents over a sudden large increase, said Susan Stroud-Parker, a spokeswoman for the Home Builders Association of Maryland.

The new rates largely affect owners of homes or businesses who are installing new septic systems, as opposed to those who own such systems. Of the about 48,000 systems in the county, more than 46,000 are licensed to residences, Jones said.

A permit for installing a complete septic system will cost $335, up from $220. Installation and maintenance of septic systems are handled by commercial septic companies, which purchase the permits and usually bill their customers for the cost.

Percolation tests - which are mandatory because they determine the suitability of a site for septic system operation - are handled almost exclusively by county septic personnel. The cost of a percolation test will increase from $125 to $300 per lot.

The cost of a septic system installation, including permits, is typically included in the price quote for buyers of new homes, Stroud-Parker said, adding that prices for new homes with septic systems will increase to reflect the new fees.

Owners of existing systems will not have to pay new fees, but their septic tanks need to be pumped by a licensed company about every three years.

The average cost for a pump-out in Anne Arundel County is $200 to $300, depending on the size of the tank, said James R. Dillard, owner of Dillard's Septic Service.

Companies such as Dillard's determine the price of the procedure, but the county maintains oversight by requiring inspections of the vehicles used in performing it.

Septic fees account for the majority of the fee adjustments, but other services will also be affected. Permits for well construction and permits for operating and building public and semi-public swimming pools will be more expensive.

Food-service facilities, including restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores, will be affected by increases in plan review fees for their construction and licensing fees for their operation.

The increased fees are expected to yield about $1 million in additional revenue, Jones said. She said the money will go into the general county fund and has not been earmarked for any specific purpose.

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