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Rates may increase for city customers

July 08, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Hagerstown water and sewer customers might see their rates go up in October.

The Hagerstown City Council is expected to vote on a 5 percent water rate increase and a 5.5 percent sewer rate increase at its July 28 meeting.

For the average residential customer, that means a 75 cent increase in the water bill and $1.97 increase in the sewer bill per quarter.

The average water bill would be $15.83 and the average sewer bill would be $37.85.

Even with the rate increases, city water and sewer customers will pay less than most people in the area, city officials said.

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The rates also are reasonable when compared with communities of similar size across the country, according to an independent survey.

The increases are needed to pay for multimillion-dollar improvements to the water and sewer systems, officials said.

"While nobody likes to talk about rate increases, it's the responsible thing to do," said city Finance Director Al Martin.

The city has a five-year plan to steadily raise city water and sewer rates in small increments rather than hit customers with one big rate increase, he said.

In the coming years, water rates are projected to go up about 3 percent a year and sewer rates about 3.5 percent a year.

The last water rate increase of 5 percent was in January 1997.

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