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Customers to pay water/sewer rate review costs

September 18, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

An independent study of the City of Hagerstown's water and sewer rates will cost an estimated $75,000 to $100,000, Finance Director Alfred Martin told the Hagerstown City Council Tuesday.

The cost will be passed on to water and sewer system customers both inside and outside the city as part of their water and sewer rates, Martin said. The impact of the study's cost and its results on future rates is not yet known, he said.

The council on Aug. 20 gave preliminary approval to a proposal to have an outside independent consultant review the rates.

The contract will be awarded around December and it will take the consultant about six months to complete the work, Martin said.

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The rates are reviewed annually and adjusted as necessary to meet revenue requirements for the city water and sewer operations, but the basic rate differentials and structure have remained the same since a 1988 sewer fund study and a 1991 water fund study, a city staff report said.

The cost and scope of the study may vary as the Maryland Public Service Commission reviews whether the rates for city and noncity customers are reasonable, Martin said.

The Washington County Water and Sewer Advisory Commission, acting with the support of the Washington County Commissioners, requested the review from the regulatory agency in an Aug. 2 letter.

City staff did not know of the county commission request when it asked for the council's permission to pursue hiring a consultant, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

Noncity customers are charged higher rates than city customers.

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