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Emmitsburg sets sewer rate increase

(3/12) The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners formally adopted a proposed sewer rate increase at the conclusion of a public hearing held March 5.

The increase was necessitated by the need to construct a new wastewater treatment plant to meet state mandates.

The hearing was continued from the previous public review held on February 20. Opposition to the rate increase was expressed by only one citizen, who appeared at the initial hearing and its continuance.

The sewer service rate increase on sewer customers could increase fees by 80 percent, or more, for some users.

The new facility is expected to be online in "late summer of 2014," with construction slated to begin in 2012, and will be located in the area of the current treatment plant east of Route 15 on Creamery Road, and will cost around $20 million," according to Town Manager David Haller.

Haller stated at the March 5 hearing that if the town was able to find additional grant money to help pay for the cost of the project, the rates could be adjusted downward proportionately.

Of the anticipated $20 million price tag, $14.5 million will be provided to the town via grant money from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the federal Department of Agriculture (DOA). In addition, DOA will be providing the town with a $5.5 million loan bearing a 2.4 percent interest rate payable over 40 years.

The commission also voted to implement the increase in two phases, each representing 40 percent of the 80 percent needed to pay for the balance of a new wastewater treatment plant that won't be covered by grant money, and for any accrued debt service.

The first phase of increase of 40 percent will go into effect April 1, while the second 40 percent increase will go into effect in July 2014. Individual customers may experience a rate increase below 40 percent or above 40 percent in each of the two phases, depending on their average gallon usage.

The full 80 percent increase in anticipated revenues generated by raising the sewer rate is expected to generate $1,105,923 by the time the new plant goes online.

The motion to increase the rates was made by Commissioner Glenn Blanchard, seconded by Commissioner Clifford L. Sweeney, and adopted unanimously (Commissioner Patrick A. Joy absent).

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