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Manchester water and sewer rates to rise July 1; billing to change slightly for landlords

Higher water and sewer rates for the Town of Manchester take effect at the start of the new financial year on July 1, and in the fall the town will begin billing landlords in a slightly different way.

The new rates were passed at the same meeting when the Town Council members approved a balanced budget for the 2020 financial year. They chose not to raise property taxes.

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The real property tax remains at the rate of $0.216 per $100 of assessed value of real property.

The total budget is $3,189,766 for FY20, an 11.95% increase over FY19’s budget of $2,849,077.

There was no public comment at the May 14 Town Council meeting on the budget or the change in water and sewer rates.

The change in water and sewer rates affects the cost per unit. It doesn’t change the rate for water and sewer use per thousand gallons.

Water unit fees will increase by $5 per unit per quarter, up to $27 per residential unit from $22.

Sewer unit fees for residences will increase to $36 per unit, an increase of $7 from the previous quarterly rate.

Commercial rates for units have also increased depending on the size of the meter. These changes affect retail and business, hotels and motels, apartments, hospitals and care homes, schools and colleges, and industrial rates.

The full text of the legislation with the rates is available on the official Manchester website, manchestermd.gov, or in person at the town office.

The town also made a change to their administrative policy for water billing in buildings with landlords and tenants. Previously, the town was billing individual tenants, but moving forward, it will send all bills for a property to the landlord for them to distribute.

The council voted unanimously to make the administrative change.

The goal of the change was to cut costs by saving the time it takes for staff to bill each individual tenant. Reading the individual meters isn’t what takes the time, Town Administrator Steve Miller said during the March 12 council meeting when the idea was previously discussed.

“We should not be doing that,” Miller said. “We should not be a clearinghouse for the landlord.”

“We’ll take a check for five different places. We’re okay with how the money comes in,” Kelly Baldwin, director of finance, said at that same meeting. “We just don’t want to be their collection agency.”

I personally think it’s a process improvement,” Mayor Ryan Warner said before the council voted.

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This change was originally planned to go in effect with the new water and sewer rates on July 1, but the town chose to push the date back to Oct. 1 in order to give landlords more time to get informed about the change, Miller said.

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