Carroll County water and sewer rates will not increase in fiscal year 2018, according to a presentation by county Comptroller Robert Burk made at the Thursday morning meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.
"We take a look at the rates on an annual basis to make sure we are able to support the budget called for in the upcoming year," Burk told the commissioners. "My recommendation is that no rate change is needed for FY18."
Water rates in Carroll County were recently increased from minimum charge of $9.03 in FY16 to $9.14 in FY17, which ends July 1. The rates for three tiers of water use in FY16 — $6.26 per 1,000 gallons for use of 0 to 10,000 gallons, $6.41 per 1,000 gallons for 10,001 to 30,000 gallons, and $6.54 per 1,000 gallons for 30,001 gallons or more — were in increased to $6.74, $6.87 and $7.02 in FY17, respectively.
"We did an adjustment in rates last year in water, about a 7 percent increase," Burk told the commissioners. "In sewer, the current rates were actually adopted in FY15, so we have been able to hold sewer rates."
The minimum charge for sewer remains $12.75 and the tiered rate structure is $8.65 per 1,000 gallons up to 10,000 gallons of use, $9.14 per 1,000 gallons for 10,000 to 30,000 gallons, and $9.62 per 1,000 gallons for anything greater.
"With these rates we have some additional built-in maintenance for the system, correct?" Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, asked of Burk, who confirmed that the current rates not only support operating costs but also add to a fund dedicated to maintenance.
"We are continuously attempting to ramp that up," Burk said. "Even holding rates steady provided some slight increase in funding toward capital."
The existing water and sewer rates will be included in the commissioner's final FY18 budget, which is expected to be adopted May 25.
The commissioners also approved a zoning waiver for the city of Westminster, the first step in allowing the city to annex county land around its existing water treatment plant at 1161 Old New Windsor Pike. Westminster needs to annex the property in order to upgrade the facility to comply with state mandates concerning the treatment of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, Westminster Director of Public Works Jeff Glass told the commissioners.
"Currently, the water treatment facility and the property are owned by the city, but it's not in their corporate limits," said Lynda Eisenberg, bureau chief of comprehensive planning for Carroll County. "Since it's not within their corporate limits, it's under the county development standards."
Now that the city has received approval from the commissioners, Eisenberg said the process moves to the city, which has its own procedure to follow, including a public hearing.
"We are kind of like the first stop," she said. "At the end of all of that, they send us a form that we have them fill out letting us know this is what has happened and then we adjust our maps with the new official boundary."