(5/5) Thurmont's electric bills went out last month with a 26-percent rate increase. That means customers using 1000 kilowatt-hours each month will pay $89.72 a month instead of $71.49.
"The new rate was part of the bills that went out at the beginning of the month," said Thurmont Clerk/Treasurer Rick May. "So far, we haven't received many comments about it."
Mayor Martin Burns is also relieved that he hasn't gotten complaints about the new rates. "I hope that it is attributed to the information flow we did to let people know what was happening and why."
Resident Brian Lynch said while he's not thrilled with the new rates, "I don't see that I have much of a choice. It seems like prices are going up everywhere."
The 26 percent increase is the first step in a 42 percent phased increase that will be fully in effect by April 2007.
"I like things phased in," Lynch said. "That's why I like the payment plan. Both seem to level things out somewhat."
"We did try to phase it in more and couldn't because of the Public Service Commission," said Commissioner Bill Blakeslee.
He said Thurmont would have faced an even greater increase if the town hadn't agreed to the current rates when it did.
Front Royal, Va., has been a part of the municipal group pooling its resources to purchase energy. Blakeslee said, "Front Royal opted out and they are paying considerably more then we are now."
Shirley DePaolis has lived in many towns over the years because her husband was in the military.
"Thurmont has always had bargain rates as far as electricity and water rates are concerned," DePaolis said.
As for dealing with the new rates, she and her husband also use the budget plan to level out their bills and they have always been conservative in their power use.
"We're not going to have every light on in the house all night long," DePaolis said. "It just wasn't the way we were raised."