Letters to the editor 9/23

September 23, 2002

City-county foibles hit a new low

To the editor:

In reference to the Morning Herald, Sep. 18, page A7 article by Scott Butki: "Customers to pay rate review costs."

After I retrieved section A7 from a corner across the room, where I tossed it in frustration after reading the article, I couldn't contain my laughter.

Here we go again. More fodder for Tim Rowland, I thought. As if he doesn't have enough to write a book. City and county officials continue to amaze me by their perceived, or real, lack of cooperation and coordination over water and sewer issues.

Only this time it may hit the customer squarely in the wallet to the tune of $100,000, more or less.

Question: Will county residents on city water and/or sewer pay a larger proportion of the tab for this study, than city residents, as we apparently do for usage of city water and sewer?


So say county officials, in a request to the Maryland Public Services Commission for review of the disparity in rates charged to city and county customers.

Did county officials coordinate or inform city officials of this action?

Was there any conscientious effort by the city/county "water and sewer working group" to address this issue?

Something's wrong with this picture.

The county wants the state involved. Recent history should tell us that if you are not prepared for the answer, then perhaps you shouldn't ask the question. Strike one.

The city wants to pay a consultant $100,000 to tell us what we already know. That the water and sewer rate "structure" and "differentials" MAY be outdated.

There's that word MAY again. Strike two.

The city says it will pass the cost of the study on to all city and county water and sewer customers in future rate increases. Strike three.

This is yet another example of the continuing division between city and county officials. Unless someone steps forward and bridges this divide, I'm afraid we, the citizen/customer, will find ourselves at the bottom of a deep crevasse, looking up.

For starters, we have more important matters to worry about, like public safety.

I suggest the city perform its annual rate review in-house, as is current procedure, and equalize rates across the board as soon as practical. This is a basic issue of fairness. Why charge higher rates to county customers for the same amount of usage as that levied upon city customers?

Let the increases/decreases fall where they may.

Who else charges me a higher fee for service because I live in the county? I think you know the answer.

Now, let's get on with figuring out a smart method to fund fire, rescue and emergency services throughout the county. And, sooner rather than later.

Bob DeVinney


Move on consolidation

To the editor:

My best wishes to Tom Riford and the Consolidation of Government Functions Task Force! As a citizen of Hagerstown and Washington County, I watched the only consolidation I was ever aware of come and go after a few years. I'm referring to the demise of the county and city real estate tax bills being mailed to us in one envelope.

I thought it was great while it lasted. But it stopped a couple of years ago. And this year, not only with higher mailing cost, but also containing larger increases, we citizens are receiving deluxe treatment. Now the bills come, individually, complete with that extra money! Good luck to you and the committee!

Pat Strachan


Festival was greatly enjoyed

To the editor:

Let's give the guys and gals a big hand. I mean the people who put up and took down the tents for the Augustober Fest and the ones who cooked and cleaned, the guys who put up the tables and chairs, the ones who put up the beautiful trimmings and the people who took care of the food and drinks.

Thanks to the people who came and the police officers who helped, and the ambulance people and let's thank God for that beautiful rain that was so badly needed. I sat on my porch and enjoyed every minute of it.

See you all again next year.

Kay Schindel


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