By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun
7:57 PM EDT, May 21, 2013
Baltimore County residents served by the city's water system won't see a rate increase this year, county officials said Tuesday, despite a city proposal to impose a 15 percent increase.
Baltimore City's Department of Public Works proposed the rate increase this week.
The city and county have had a cost-sharing agreement for decades. But a county spokeswoman said budget officials have already determined that the county can absorb the increased cost without passing it on to county customers — even though they don't yet have specifics on how much the county might have to cover.
"We do not need to raise rates on county residents in order to cover the costs," spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said.
The city's Department of Public Works provides water to neighboring jurisdictions in different ways and quantities, said agency spokesman Kurt Kocher. Each jurisdictions sets its own rate, at least partially based on the city rates.
City public works officials say they need funds from the proposed rate increase to repair infrastructure, meet federal and state mandates and update meter and billing systems. About half of the city's 410,0000 residential and commercial customers are located in Baltimore County.
A fund that includes revenue from water and sewer connection charges, water distribution charges, and other fees helps pay for utility infrastructure costs in the county. Kobler said budget officials in Baltimore County believe "the fund balance is well positioned to absorb any potentially associated costs" from the proposed city increase.
The county last raised its water rates in 2010, when it increased them by 10 percent, she said. Today, the typical water bill for family of four in the county is about $278 per year.
The city is scheduled to hold a public hearing on its proposed increase June 26.
Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.
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