A Maryland official who claimed that Washington County's high sewer rates made state efforts to bring manufacturers here a waste of time is now working with local officials to try to fix the problem. The help is greatly appreciated, but we suspect it will take the General Assembly to create a permanent solution.
Last month Richard C. Mike Lewin, Maryland Secretary of Business and Economic Development, criticized the county's utility rate structure in a letter sent to Commissioners' President Greg Snook.
Lewin said the county had lost a chance to have HP Hood, a milk manufacturer, build an $80 million plant here because the county's hook-up fees, first quoted at $2.7 million, then later dropped to $900,000, were still nine times higher than the nearest competitor. Until rates come down, Lewin said, trying to recruit other manufacturers is a waste of time.
Lewin and county officials met Monday in Baltimore and proposed that the county create a reserve fund to keep hook-up fees low and work on removing state restrictions on piping waste into the Conococheague pre-treatment plant.