Richard D. L. Fulton
(4/18) The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 at the conclusion of a public hearing held at the beginning of their April 16 meeting to double water service hookups fees amid very little protest.
Only a single member of the public spoke out against the increase, while the board also acknowledged the receipt of only one letter in opposition.
The action taken will raise the hook-up fee from $4,000 to $8,200 for a residential unit, and for other types of units as per an established town Water and Sewer Service Allocation Chart.
Town Manager David Haller noted that the increase was necessary to finance the construction of the proposed Emmit Gardens water treatment facility at a projected cost of around $3,875,000.
The new facility had to be constructed in order for the town to meet higher treatment standards mandated by the Maryland Department of the Environment DOE).
The current water treatment plant has about 250 uncommitted taps available. Phase One of the new facility will create about 476 new taps. Phase Two would add some additional taps, if the phase was to be constructed.
There are about 910 taps worth of capacity at the wastewater treatment plant, a figure that ultimately determines the maximum number of taps the water treatment plant can make available.
The water hook-fee increase was devised to help pay for the plant without penalizing existing customers. The increase will only apply to new costumers.
However, in a letter to the commissioners, developer Chuck Karfonta, RJD Development, Corp., called the then-proposed water service fee hike "another step in discouraging development. I guess the Town believes their citizens are better off with the unfinished subdivisions."
Karfonta, along with Richard Demitt, owners and operators of RJD, have been the builders involved with the Brookfield subdivision.
"Anti-growth and anti-business measures only keep the burden of increased taxes and fees on the backs of the town's existing citizens," he wrote. "A better time to consider raising the fee is when growth and prosperity returns to the town."
The sole resident opposing the increase in person was Rick Olesek. "Increasing the fees won’t help us," he stated. "By raising the tap fees it serves no purpose, nothing."
The decision to hike the fees was approved following a motion made by Commissioner Clifford L. Sweeney and seconded by Commissioner Glenn Blanchard.
Commissioner Patrick A. Joy voted against the proposal, stating earlier, "I was for deferring this for six months until we really started selling some (hook-ups)."
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