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Washngton County budget proposal would raise water, sewer rates

April 09, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Water bills would increase 3.7 percent and sewer bills would rise by 3.6 percent for average residential customers in the coming fiscal year under a budget proposal reviewed Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners.

The rate hike is part of a long-range plan to pay off the county's water and sewer debt, which stands at about $29 million, according to capital budget documents.

Sewer rates for wholesale customers would increase by 7 percent.

Under the proposed increase, the average residential customer who uses 12,000 gallons of water per quarter would pay $4.50 more per quarter in fiscal year 2009, which begins July 1.

That means the quarterly water bill for the average residential customer would rise from $122.80 to $127.30.

The average customer's sewer bills would increase by $4.06 per quarter, from $111.34 to $115.40.

In fiscal year 2008, water rates increased by 3.5 percent and sewer rates rose 3.4 percent for average residential customers.

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The county commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed rate increases April 22.

The proposed rate increases were presented during the Department of Water Quality's budget presentation Tuesday.

The county's water fund budget proposal for fiscal 2009 reflects an overall increase of $495,620, which is primarily due to a $442,600 increase in the annual transfer from the county's general fund to pay the water and sewer debt.

A corresponding decrease is reflected in the general fund transfer to the sewer fund in fiscal 2009.

"The total amount being transferred from the general fund is the same as last year. We're just changing how much is going to each fund," County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

Murray said the goal is to have the debt self-supporting by 2012 and to eliminate general fund contributions altogether.

Without the general fund transfers, the water fund would increase 2.81 percent and the sewer fund would decrease 2 percent in fiscal 2009, Pippel said.

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