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Park sewer rates going to increase dramatically

(5/1) Though Cunningham Falls State Park is outside of the corporate limits of Thurmont, the average rate for sewer service the state pays for the park is barely more than an Thurmont resident pays.

Its virtually the same thing in-town residents pay and far lower than other out-of-town residents are paying, Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Bill Blakeslee told the town commissioners on April 28.

Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park both pay a minimum fee for sewer service as long as their usage falls below a certain level. When averaged out per 1,000 gallons of sewage treating (the way most customers pay), an inequity appears.

Thurmont Residents pay $7.95 per 1,000 gallons and out-of-town residents pay $11.93 per 1,000 gallons. Catoctin Mountain Park pays an average of $28.68 per 1,000 gallons, but Cunningham Falls State Park pays $8.02 per 1,000 gallons.

Blakeslee also noted that the parks are paying at rates set in 1983. However, the in-town and out-of-town rates have risen over that time. Though he did not know what the 1983 rates were, the in-town rate was $2.75 per 1,000 gallons in 1999.

I think we absolutely have to raise the state (rate) to at least what the out-of-town residents are paying," Commissioner Glenn Muth said.

Mayor Martin Burns suggested the percentage increase incurred by town residents since 1983 should be applied to the park rates to make them equitable. Based on the 1999 rates, this would require at least a 189-percent increase.

Burns also wants the policy revised so that anytime rates are increased, it becomes effective at the same time for the parks as it does for residents. Under the current, expired contracts the parks and town are operating under, park rates can only be raised with a year notice.

The commissioners would like Blakeslee to collect some additional information so that they can justify the amount by which they will be increasing the parks sewer rate.

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