Westminster water, sewer rates increase as council adopts $10.78 million budget


The Westminster City Council last night adopted a $10.78 million budget for fiscal 1993-1994, fed by slightly increased water and sewer rates.

While the property tax rate will remain at 83 cents per $100 of assessed evaluation, water and sewer rates will jump by 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

The $10,782,111 budget maintains the current tax rate, but will bring in $176,400 -- 7.5 percent -- more than last year because of an increase in the city's assessable tax base.

For the average family using 6,000 gallons of water per quarter, the utility increase will mean 50 cents more on the water bill and 90 cents on the sewer bill per quarter.

"The combined average increase will be about $12 a year," said Stephen V. Dutterer, city finance director.

The council enacted the budget quickly and without discussion.

Mayor W. Benjamin Brown noted that the water rate increase was "strictly for inflation."

In other business last night:

* Councilman Kenneth A. Yowan introduced a city ordinance that would fine businesses and corporations with defective fire alarm systems $400 a day if the systems are not fixed.

Mr. Yowan said the ordinance was drafted with the help of the Westminster Fire Department.

"In a one-year period ending March 31, the Westminster Fire Department responded to 97 false alarms from automatic fire alarm systems in businesses and corporations," Mr. Yowan said.

"Half of those were due to five or six particular businesses -- the worst was 13 from one business."

He did not identify the business.

The proposed ordinance defines a faulty alarm system as one that sounds in a nonemergency situation three times in a 30-day period or five times in a year.

The business would be notified of the defective system and would be required to have it repaired or face the $400-a-day fine.

* Karen Blandford, the city's housing, community development and personnel supervisor, reported on projects in Westminster that could be financed through the state's Community Block Grant program.

* The council adopted a resolution giving its approval to Granite House Inc., a special needs residential home, to obtain funding through State of Maryland Bonding Authority.

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