Tolls on Maryland roads are going to be heading up. It’s just a matter of time.

This was long thought to be an untapped budget revenue source for the state, and a recent report by the Department of Legislative Services tells lawmakers Maryland’s tolls are far lower than others and need to be increased to help the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).

"Over the past several decades, low toll rates have made Maryland drivers accustomed to paying minimal toll rates. Increased debt service and the demands of an aging system will necessitate periodic toll increases over the next several years," the report says. "Although the MDTA Board has independent toll-setting authority, it is not immune to public and political pressure to limit toll increases. The MDTA Board has a fiduciary responsibility to continue to raise revenues as necessary despite public or political opposition."

According to The Baltimore Sun’s Michael Dresser, who covers transportation issues for the paper, the MDTA needs a 27-percent increase in funding to get through 2012. Dresser wrote on Sunday, “A 27 percent increase sounds abstract; a hike of say, 75 cents would set effigies alight.”

Dresser said analysts have proposed higher toll rates for the Baltimore harbor crossing at rush hours and premium rates at the Bay Bridge during summer weekends.

Berlin issued a “my bad” this week, and it was a good move. It’s always wise to admit a mistake, and the town was the unfortunate position of having to do just that.

Many town residents were mystified last week when they received their monthly electric and water bills. Personally, I cringe whenever I get my town bill in the first place, but even more so upon opening it last week. It wasn’t so much the cost as the appearance of it and the fact it was missing some information, such as the due date, among other things. Thanks to a new invoicing system, the bills were completely overhauled and consequently extremely difficult to understand.

In a letter to utility customers, accompanied by a replacement utility bill that featured the former layout and statement of charges, Town Administrator Anthony Carson explained this month’s bills represented the first through the new billing system and there were some mistakes. I personally liked how Carson handled the “my bad.”

In his letter, he wrote, “As employees of the Town of Berlin, we have established high professional standards that we strive to achieve for our residents every day. In this instance, we failed … The bills should not have been sent from the new system without ensuring they were correct. I apologize for the error …”

In other news, Mike Beatty, known best as DJ Batman, wants everyone to know today that he’s alive and well.

A nasty rumor mysteriously got started this week that the veteran disc jockey and radio personality had mysteriously died sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday

“It’s not true,” he jokingly told me yesterday around noon in a phone conversation sparked by a note I privately sent him through Facebook. “It’s greatly exaggerated is the quote I guess.”

Beatty said he had missed about a dozen calls on his cell phone yesterday and Wednesday and only one caller left a message, leading him to wonder what was going on.

“I have no idea how this got started,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. You know I often say, especially in the winter around here, if someone sneezes in the Inlet parking lot, they say ‘God Bless You’ in Fenwick Island.’ It’s just that small of a town, so I can see how this really took off.”

After this week’s hoopla, I’m thinking Beatty could have some fun with this on his weekend radio show. Perhaps he will cite a few memories of the “Paul is dead” urban legend that ran rampant in 1967 regarding The Beatles and Paul McCartney. There was some odd beliefs back then that McCartney was killed in a car crash and a look-a-like was filling in for him with the band. Maybe, just maybe, Beatty feels a little bit like Paul today.

About The Author: Steven Green

Alternative Text

The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.