Water, Sewer Rates Increased For Some Residents

SNOW HILL – Many of Worcester County’s public water and wastewater customers will see increases in their bills in fiscal year 2010 to handle rising costs and to provide service to more customers.

The Worcester County Commissioners unanimously this week approved the sanitary service area budgets and assessments, many of which include higher rates.

The cost of operating most service areas has increased, with higher costs for personnel, health insurance and operating expenses. Growth in population has also increased the demand for sewer and water service.

The county service areas are operated via enterprise funds, which are separate from other county accounts and cannot be tapped for general county expenses. Each enterprise fund takes in revenue from its own customers and uses that revenue strictly for the service area.

Ocean Pines, the service area with the largest number of customers, will see a rate increase for both residential and commercial accounts.

Residents will see their base water and wastewater rate increase from $128 to $133 per quarter. Commercial accounts will see their rate increase from $240 to $245 per quarter.

The advisory board for the Ocean Pines water and wastewater service area warned during the budget process that rates could go up annually in the future.

Ocean Pines will see limited increases in sanitary service customers with the development nearly built out, but costs will continue to rise with inflation. The excess capacity could also be used for new development on Ocean Pines’ borders.

The Ocean Pines wastewater treatment plant, if used to replace nearby septic systems, could generate more income, instead of keeping the extra capacity from the underused plant in reserve, the advisory board suggested.

This year, Assateague Pointe dwellers will see the quarterly water and wastewater rate go up from $55 to $65 for trailers and from $93.75 to $103.75 for single-family dwellings.

Flat rate water in Edgewater Acres will go up from $55 to $65 and wastewater will increase from $110 to $120 per quarter. Accessibility fees will increase form $13.50 to $25.

The Landings will be assessed an increased quarterly rate, from $128 to $150, and an increased accessibility charge, going up from $100 to $150.

Lighthouse Sound rates will increase from $200 to $210 per quarter, and the accessibility fee will go up from $75 to $85.

Mystic Harbor water and wastewater customers will see their quarterly base rate increase from $128 to $138 for residential accounts and from $240 to $250 for commercial customers. The accessibility charge will increase from $75 to $100.

Newark’s quarterly base rate will increase from $128 to $138 for residents and from $150 to $162 for commercial customers.

Sunset Village, which is billed en masse for all 84 residences, will see a quarterly increase from the $5,956 that covers all homes in the development to $6,216, for a total of $74 per house per quarter.

River Run is served by the Ocean Pines water and wastewater service area and will see the same fees.

West Ocean City customers will pay just slightly more in fixture rates, from $8.70 to $9.75 domestic, and from $12 to $13.25 for commercial accounts.

No fee changes were enacted for the Briddletown, Oyster Harbor, South Point Village, Lewis Road, Snug Harbor or Riddle Farm service areas.