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Water and sewer rate hikes in store for Clear Spring residents

A state-mandated water filtration system will cost the town between $660,000 and $1 million and a planned water storage tank are

A state-mandated water filtration system will cost the town between $660,000 and $1 million and a planned water storage tank are

January 15, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - As 2003 dawns, the new year may be remembered as the one when town officials were finally over a barrel on the subject of water and sewer rates. The culprit is progress.

For many years, in-town water customers have been paying $18 per quarter while those hooked up outside the town limits pay $27 every three months.

A state-mandated water filtration system will cost the town between $660,000 and $1 million. On top of that, plans are on track to erect a pricey water storage tank that would hold 340,000 gallons of treated water.

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"We are being forced to do this by the state and we'll have to raise the water rates because of it," Town Councilman Gary Grove said.

In November, Pat Kline of Kline and Co., certified public accountants, recommended rate hikes that would increase the average yearly water bill by $120 and the average annual sewer bill by $68.

Kline said the losses are starting to mount and the town will need to do something soon.

Mayor Paul Hose Jr. said he hopes to see some improvement when all water meters are installed throughout town and customers can be charged according to usage instead at a flat rate.

"It's going to be a tough year in Clear Spring, with tough decisions for all of us on the council that will affect all the residents," Hose said.

A Clear Spring resident for more than 30 years, Hose enjoys a nostalgia shared by many who like the town the way it is.

Realistically, he knows that changes will come and this year will be a good example of that. Hose continues to hope that town officials will be able to manage the change.

The former owner and operator of Clear Spring Hardware Store, Councilman Mason Mundey now works at that business as well as giving of his time to the management of the Town of Clear Spring.

"We're going to have major problems this year and they are all going to be about water," Mundey said.

Mundey said he fielded a request from a resident about blacktopping recently and he said he couldn't make any promises.

"I don't see us spending much money on anything until we find out how much this water situation is going to cost us," Mundey said.

Terry Baker, the town's newest council member, attended his first meeting Monday and tried to get up to speed on what he will need to know.

"I'm still in the learning mode," Baker said, adding that he will be leaning on the other town officials to help him discover what the year 2003 has in store for the Clear Spring.

One big change in 2003 will certainly be the absence of the enthusiasm, public spirit and love of community that was always displayed by the late Councilman William Albowicz.

He often referred to Clear Spring as a pleasant oasis and vowed to do everything in his power to keep his adopted hometown just that way.

His widow, Vice Mayor Julie Albowicz said last year she would like to see some additional specialty or antique shops open up along Clear Spring's main street, adding to its charm.

While some changes have come - a relocated and improved pharmacy and some new shops - the area is still fertile for new small businesses.

And on that note, there are some bright spots on the horizon, according to Town Clerk Juanita Grimm.

At the first meeting of the new year, Grimm said she has received inquiries from two businesses who are interested in moving to Clear Spring.

Located about 12 miles west of Hagerstown on U.S. 40, Clear Spring was incorporated in 1836. The population is approximately 415.

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