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Water/sewer customers to get hearing

March 29, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Washington County water and sewer customers will get a chance to comment Tuesday on proposed rate increases.

The public hearing, which will be held at the County Administration Building, begins at 7 p.m.

The Washington County Commissioners are considering hiking rates by 3 percent for sewer service and 2.5 percent for water.

The average residential customer using 12,000 gallons per quarter would pay 90 cents more per month for sewer and 85 cents more per month for water under the plan.

Those rate increases, which were recommended by the Water and Sewer Department, would allow the county to take less money from the general fund to balance the water and sewer budgets.

Under this proposal, the county general fund would contribute $2.27 million to the Water and Sewer Department budget in the coming fiscal year, down from $2.3 million this year.

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The proposed rate increases are higher than recommendations made by the Washington County Water and Sewer Advisory Commission, which sought to increase the subsidy from the general fund to almost $3 million.

Clarence W. Scheer, the chairman of the advisory panel, said much higher rates would pose a burden for senior citizens. While the proposal for this year seems small, he said he is concerned about the cumulative effect of many years of small increases stacked on top of one another.

"I hope we have a very good turnout. People certainly need to represent their views," he said.

But Scheer said he fears the response might be unenthusiastic.

"With a light turnout, there's no chance for a difference in what the commissioners are proposing," he said.

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