The Union Bridge mayor and Town Council will hold a work session tonight to discuss whether to increase water rates to qualify for grants and a low-interest loan to build a new water system.
The current rate of $1.13 per thousand gallons is too low for the town to be qualified for further assistance, the Maryland Department of Environment advised town officials in a letter Nov. 17.
The state has already pledged to give the town a $300,000 grant to help build a new water system.
"We recommend that you evaluate your fund sources and select the best funding package for your needs," Virginia Kearney, program administrator for the state's water quality infrastructure program, told town officials in the letter.
The average annual water bill in Union Bridge is $137.62. But the rate could rise about 23 percent if the state were to provide the $160,000 loan the town has requested. Assuming the loan was amortized at 4 percent over 20 years, the annual payment would amount to $11,773 -- or about $31 per user if spread among the 370 users.
Although the state does not have more grant money available, the town could qualify for a $300,000 federal grant if the rates were raised, said James L. Schumacher, chairman of the town planning commission.
A rate increase would be "a small amount to pay for such a large grant," Schumacher said.
Council members are not expected to do more than discuss the possibility of a rate increase tonight. Any proposal would have to be aired in a public hearing before the matter could be brought up for a vote.
Pub Date: 12/13/98