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County, Smithsburg near accord on sewer service

May 20, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

A $10,000-a-month dispute between Smithsburg and Washington County was expected to be resolved Tuesday night.

The town will have to pay the county about an extra $10,000 a month for sewer service retroactive to July 1996 in an agreement expected to be approved by the town Tuesday night.

"It's been a long-time coming," said County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook.

Smithsburg and Williamsport have been refusing to pay new rates that the county imposed July 1, 1996. The new rates were roughly double the cost of the old rates.

The higher sewer rates will mean rate increases for the Smithsburg's water and sewer users. Last year the town began a five-year plan of increases starting with a 12 percent increase for in town users and 15 percent for out of town users, said Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers. Tuesday night the town was expected to increase rates 2 percent for in town users and 3 percent for out of town users.

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Myers said the town and the County Commissioners met several weeks ago and agreed on the broad outlines of an agreement while the lawyers worked out the details.

She said the timing of the agreement had nothing to do with the Smithsburg town election, which was held last week.

Mayor-elect Tommy Bowers is scheduled to take over in the first meeting in June.

A special budget meeting was scheduled for Tuesday night in Smithsburg.

Both towns own and maintain their own sewer collection systems, but pay the county a wholesale rate for treating their sewage.

An agreement with Smithsburg was made easier because the county owed the town about $112,000 from when the defunct Sanitary District took over the town's sewage treatment plant. That debt helped offset the $204,000 that the town owed the county as of March 13, 1998. The town also made a payment of $54,000 to the county March 27, and the remaining $38,000 will be paid to the county over the next five years.

The county agreed to forgive about $18,750 in debts the town owed in allocation fees.

The county still has to hammer out a new agreement with Williamsport, which also owes the county about $10,000 a month retroactive to July 1, 1996, according to the county.

Both towns are represented by attorney Edward Kuczynski, who could not be reached Tuesday.

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