James Rada, Jr.
(8/21) Catoctin Mountain Park and
Cunningham Falls State Park could face sewer
rate increases next year of up to 695 percent.
Thurmont Mayor Martin Burns said, “Six
hundred ninety-five percent is an extremely
high increase. I’m not going to say it’s not
The parks are currently paying rates that
were set in 1983. Since that time, Thurmont
residents have seen their sewer rates increase
695 percent from $1 per 1,000 gallons of
treated sewage to $7.95.
Burns said since residents’ rates have
increased over a number of years, “I would
prefer to stagger the increase over a period
“I wouldn’t be so charitable to the federal
park,” said Commissioner Glenn Muth. That’s
because the State of Maryland gave the town a
$1.4-million special allocation to help with
However, the federal government hasn’t
appeared to be working with the town.
Commissioner Ron Terpko expressed frustration
a meeting between town and federal officials.
“I almost feel like nobody’s taking us
seriously,” Terpko said.
The parks both pay a minimum fee for sewer
service as long as their usage falls below a
certain level. When averaged per 1,000 gallons
of sewage treatment (the way most customers
pay), inequities appear.
For months the commissioners have been
considering bringing the park rates in line
with the increases residents have borne,
especially because the additional income would
help pay for the multi-million-dollar sewer
repairs needed in Thurmont.
Currently Cunningham Falls State Park pays
$1,420 a month for sewage treatment. A
695-percent increase would take the monthly
rate to $11,289 a month. Catoctin Mountain
Park’s current rate is $710 a month. A
695-percent increase would increase the
monthly rate to $5,645 a month.
The commissioners discussed whether the
parks would accept the increase or whether
they might simply build their own treatment
plant on park land or use something like
Terpko said a plant would cost the state or
federal government $3.5 million and if they
were to commit that much money to a new plant
after turning the town down for money, the
governments would look bad.
“The other option is not to raise the rates
and in two years cut them off,” Muth said.
In the end, the commissioners decided they
will send a notice of possible increases up to
695 percent to the parks and they will
renegotiate the contracts. The consensus
opinion seemed to be that the rates would be
increased incrementally; however, the size of
the increments still needs to be worked out.