BERLIN – Municipal officials agreed to increase septage disposal rates to offset rising costs at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
Last Monday, the Berlin Town Council voted to raise the septage disposal fee from 6 cents a gallon to 7 cents a gallon. The new rate is expected to generate additional revenue to help with operating and maintenance costs at the wastewater treatment plant.
“Currently our rates are the lowest in the area compared to Pocomoke, Princess Anne, and Snow Hill,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said. “Increasing our rates from 6 cents a gallon to 7 cents a gallon would put us in the upper/mid-range of our surrounding communities.”
Allen recommended the council consider a rate increase to help fund rising costs at the wastewater treatment plant. She added that rates hadn’t been adjusted since 2011, when the rate was actually decreased from 7 cents a gallon to 6 cents a gallon because the plant was in the midst of an upgrade.
“My understanding is the rate was decreased because haulers were having trouble getting to the facility while it was being upgraded,” Allen said. “We’ve just never taken a look at returning it back.”
She said haulers typically brought in a thousand gallons at a time so the rate would essentially increase from $60 a load to $70 a load. During the past five years, the town has received an average of $119,000 a year in revenue from haulers. With the rate increase, that figure is expected to increase by about $19,000.
“That’s assuming the usage stays the same,” she said. “It would presume that the haulers don’t adjust or go somewhere else.”
She said some of the revenue generated would go toward maintenance of Bottle Branch Road, which was not constructed to town standards and deals with heavy truck traffic as haulers visit the plant.
“This increase would help generate additional revenue to support the maintenance and repair of that road,” she said.
When asked if haulers were likely to shop around if Berlin raised its rates, staff said they typically hauled to the closest plant that accepted septage.
“We’re the only plant in northern Worcester County that takes it,” said Jane Kreiter, the town’s director of public works and water resources.