Calvert Water, Sewer Rate Hike Proposed

To be Included at County Budget Hearing

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (April 9, 2020)—A proposed increase in water and sewer fees will be included in the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recommended budget that will go to public hearing next month. The BOCC agreed to add the first water and sewer rate hike in three years to the budget. The increase would become effective January 1, 2021.

The decision at the BOCC's April 7 meeting, which was streamed online, would increase the revenue to the Department of Public Works Division of Water and Sewerage by $256,745 and would be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). That was the lower of two potential models presented to the BOCC by B. Julie Paluda, deputy director of the division.

The other model, based on historical usage, would have raised $410,203. But it would have included a 25 percent increase in sewer rates, from $111.35 per quarter for the base rate to $140.29. The CPI model is a much more modest increase to $119.03.

Under the CPI model, Paluda said more revenue would be generated for the water division reserve, which she said was in the most need of replenishment. The reserve is available to cover emergencies, such as water main breaks.

With the proposed increase, each equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) would pay $88.52 yearly more, or 24 cents per day.

Paluda said the objectives of the rate modeling used to make the fee increase proposals were:

• To create a balanced budget; revenues = expenses

• To fund a planned reserve; used for unexpected non-budgeted costs

• To fund new initiatives, new staff requests, capital outlay / equipment /vehicles

• To identify when usage rates should be adjusted.

In making the motion to increase the water and sewer fees using the CPI model, Commissioner Tim Hutchins noted it has the lowest impact on the customer and the highest impact on replenishing the water division reserve, which had been depleted to just $11,000, compared to a $5 million reserve in the sewer division.

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