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Frederick County looks at higher water, sewer rates

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

Frederick County residents can expect to pay more for water and sewer to offset the local cost of stricter protections for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The Frederick County Sanitation Authority plans to hold a public hearing on proposed water and sewer rates at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the agency office, 315 Tasker Road, Stephens City.

Higher costs to treat water and transport wastewater prompt the need to raise rates, according to authority Director Uwe Weindel.

However, the rising costs of providing the utilities comes as a result of stricter rules protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Weindel said Monday.

The authority currently charges a minimum of $21.38 for the first 2,000 gallons of water and $27.85 for sewer in a two-month period at a standard home meter. Customers pay $3.69 per 1,000 gallons of water and $4.42 for sewer in excess of the minimum.

The authority proposes to raise the base rate for water by 15 percent and sewer by 20 percent -- $24.58 and $33.42 respectively.

If approved, customers would see their annual base water bills rise increase from $128.28 to $147.48. According to information provided on the authority's website, the agency proposes to increase the levy to $3.94 per 1,000 gallons of water used over the minimum. The authority proposed increasing the sewer consumption rate to $4.72 per 1,000 gallons in excess of the minimum.

Rates, if approved, would impact bills created after July 1.

As Weindel explained the authority board ultimately decides on the rate that tales effect July 1. The board can set a rate below but not the advertised levy. The authority actually charges for a two-month period or 2,000 gallons of use. The authority charges a consumption rate for water use that exceeds the 2,000

The county sanitation authority sets its rates based on the levies approved by the Frederick County-Winchester Service Authority.

"We have to take that into account when we do our calculations because we have to take account of the transportation of the waste," Weindel said.

The sanitation authority must treat water and maintain it at a certain quality, Weindel explained, before sending it out customers.

But some localities that provide water and sewer set their rates based on the revenue needed to fund the operations and, should customers use less water than expected, the authority may need to raise the levies to make up for the loss, Weindel said.

"Those fixed costs have to be maintained," Weindel said. "We are not in that position."

Weindel noted that the authority saw rates stay unchanged in the early 2000s but the levies eventually began to increase.


"The authority currently charges a minimum of $21.38 for the first 2,000 gallons of water and $27.85 for sewer." And if you don't use the minimum amounts, you still have to pay the minimum price. I am home maybe 2 days a week (most times only 1 day) and I never hit the minimum amount used. I still pay the minimum price though.
First, a real estate tax increase; now a utility fee increase. Everything is going up except my pay. After bills I usually have approximately $20 - $25 left for groceries each week if I'm lucky; now that will be less. Frankly, I'm sick of eating ramen noodles twice a day. And no, I don't qualify for any kind of help because I work and "make over the limit".

Excellent response to a problem we are seeing everywhere including Shenandoah County. It's the same old story; We The People are forever paying the price for the careless decisions made by others. All of this greedy excess building from the recent boom has now come back to haunt us and look who gets the bill.

We were going to be "sharing" all of these expenses. ha! Now the houses and building set empty and we continue to take up the slack. The schools can't pay for teachers, can't pay for this or that and yet, here we are with more taxes on property. Let's face it - we don't own anything, we merely rent from the government.

They can raise the taxes as high as they want! The peasantry will pay or else. And this goes for the utilities as well. Up, up it goes. . . and some say "we are already resigned to paying more."

Many people are now struggling hard to make ends meet or merely trying to survive. Getting out the signs to march in protest might end up in the paper for a day. Maybe - that is - unless there is a more interesting story to cover (like a greased pig contest or something). We use to, at least, have the illusion of a voice in these matters but that's fading rapidly.

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