Washington County Finance Director Debra Bastian and Water and Sewer Director Greg Murray told the County Commissioners that they could reduce the county's general fund subsidy of water and sewer from $2.7 million to $2.3 million a year, but said that would lead to higher rate increases.
If the commissioners maintain the subsidy, sewer rates would rise by 4 percent July 1, then would increase by a projected 5 percent a year for four years. The rate increases would then drop to 4 percent a year for four more years and 3 percent in 2008.
The rates would increase a cumulative 52 percent over 10 years.
The water rates would rise by 4 percent in 2000, and by 3 percent a year through 2007, with no increase in 2008.
The cumulative increase would be 32 percent.
If the general fund subsidy is cut by $200,000 a year, the sewer rates would rise a cumulative 69 percent over 10 years. The water rates would rise 61 percent.
The county last year had projected a 78 percent increase over the next nine years.
The projected increases have dropped because of more than $7 million in savings from the expected closing of the Nicodemus Wastewater Treatment Plant and $300,000 a year in savings in operations and maintenance expenses, Murray said.
The rate increases and general fund subsidies would help pay off the $53 million water, sewer and pretreatment plant debt.
The finance employees of the Water and Sewer Department also have merged with Bastian's Finance Department. The $200,000 a year cost of those employees is being picked up by the county general fund, Murray said.
Bastian and Murray said the sewer rate increase could be cut by about another 1 percent a year over the next decade if the county gets full grant funding from the state or federal governments for the $2.5 million Beaverbrook pumping station and Holiday Acres sewer project.
The rate increase proposals will be discussed by the Water and Sewer Advisory Commission on Thursday.