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Town raises water, sewer hookup fees

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

The cost of building a home in the town keeps growing.

Less than two weeks after it voted for a temporary increase in the cost of a new sewer connection, the board of commissioners voted 4-0 to raise water and sewer connection fees by $500 each.

The commissioners temporarily added a $3,500 surcharge to its hookup fee on Feb. 18, saying it was a way to raise funds for the town's ailing sewer system.

Including the town's $1,200 impact fee, developers soon face a $12,700 charge to build a home, a 55 per-cent increase from the $8,200.

Town Manager David Haller pushed for the increase. He said his analysis showed that it costs about $32 a gallon daily to generate extra capacity for the water and sewer systems. With average home use at 250 gallons a day, that meant the town could justify the $1,000 increase.

Commissioner Art Elder said the extra money could be used to repair the system, but he was cautioned by Mr. Haller that repair costs can't be considered when raising connection fees.

Commissioner Clifford Sweeney then noted that the town's rates were lower than other area municipalities, and he was warned that rates couldn't be increased just because they were lower.

While connection fees are set to be raised, impact fees will remain stable. On Mr. Haller's advice, the board determined it couldn't justify increasing the $1,200 per-lot impact fee.

The board also unanimously objected to a Frederick County Health Department inquiry about allowing a well and septic system for a proposed home on Mountain View Road. The lot is outside the town but inside its growth area, and Emmitsburg already provides water and sewer service along the road.

Mr. Haller said the board should object because town policy is to provide utility service only to new customers in the town limits. He said that if the property was developed on well and septic, it would be difficult to annex the land. The town manager also said that when other septic systems along the road failed, the town was forced to provide sewer service without annexation or taxation.

Mountain View's current residents, however, got good news. Pending approval by the Maryland Department of the Environment, the town accepted a bid of almost $403,000 to replace the water line serving the road.

That was the only utility project that gained board approval. The commissioners rejected the low bid for the Little Run Sewer Main replacement project, deeming it too high.

Mr. Haller also started lobbying for more help in the town office.

Now that the town offices have relocated to the second floor of the renovated Emmitsburg Community Center, space isn't a problem. Mr. Haller said he'll prepare a detailed staffing request.

The board unanimously approved a plan to buy a 0.76-acre parcel adjacent to the community center. The town will pay the Emmitsburg Ambulance Co. $98,500 for the lot.

The commissioners also voted 4-0 to have an amendment written to permanently disband the Economic Renewal Committee.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government