Wade questions use of general fund for debt

April 03, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

Washington County Commissioner James R. Wade said Thursday that a request for $2.7 million from the general fund budget to help offset the county's water and sewer debt might help keep customer rates low but it would take money from other areas.

When the county has to spend that much money to keep sewer and water rates down, it has less money for schools, roads and bridges, Wade said during a County Commisioners meeting to review the 1998-99 budget.

"That's the situation this community is in right now," Wade said.

Wade's comments came after the chairman of the Washington County Water and Sewer Advisory Commission requested $2.7 million for fiscal 1998-99 as part of the county's continuing effort to reduced its $53 million debt for its water, sewer and pretreatment plant operations.

The advisory commission also wants to increase sewer rates by 3 percent and water rates by 4 percent to help bring down the debt, according to chairman Clarence Scheer.


Rates would have to increase even more without the money sought from the general fund, according to projections made by the advisory commission.

In the 1997-98 budget year, $2.7 million was taken out of the county's general fund to help offset the debt.

Scheer said he could understand Wade's interest in reducing the amount taken from the general fund, but said the advisory commission cannot consider reducing county funding at this time.

Scheer said the plan keeps the county from implementing "obnoxiously" high sewer and water rates for county residents.

The proposed rate increases would cost the average water customer $16 more a year and the average sewer customer $14 more a year.

The commissioners are expected to decide Tuesday on whether to approve the request for general fund money and the rate increase.

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