Rock Hall may increase water, sewer fees
ROCK HALL — Water and sewer fees are likely to rise in Rock Hall after Town Manager Ron Fithian suggested increasing them to help offset the cost of repairs to the municipal plant during a Dec. 3 meeting.
The council has not yet set a date for a hearing to provide the public with the opportunity to give input about raising the fees.
Fithian said he “commends” the council for “attempting to hold down the bills,” but there is urgent work that needs to be completed on the water treatment plant.
Fithian said Rock Hall has the highest minimum gallons in the county, excluding Chestertown and Galena, at 15,000. He said many other towns require people to pay an overage sooner.
Fithian said with the water treatment plant is getting older; parts are wearing out more frequently than the town has seen in the past. He called the fee increase “overdue.”
“We’ve gone as far as we can,” Fithian said. “The bottom line is, things are wearing out a little more frequently than we’ve seen in the past and it’s my opinion — like I said and some other people said — we’re overdue and it’s time that we implement, I would suggest, that we increase our water and sewer rates.”
Fithian originally asked for a rate increase of 20 percent, but said more like 30 percent is need. He said even with a 30 percent increase, Rock Hall would still have the second lowest fees in the county with Chestertown as the lowest.
He said the amount of people using water and sewer helps keep the cost down for residents, which explains Chestertown’s lower fee.
Councilwoman Beth Andrews asked Fithian for specific examples of where the increased revenue would be used for in regards to the water treatment plant.
“We increase the revenue that we take in so there’s got to be liabilities. There’s got to be projects that we have. So what would we be raising the money for?” Andrews said.
Fithian said he could have a list of items that need to be repaired for the council at the next meeting. He said that list is ever changing and priorities are constantly updated, however.
Andrews said a list would help the council “get an idea of what’s out there as we sit here and try to make financial decisions for the town.”
Andrews said the town’s budget will need to be amended after the fee increase is finalized.
The council also unanimously approved a proposal from Tyler Technologies as a provider of utilities billing software. Andrews said the town has worked with Tyler Technologies and has a “good workable relationship” with them.
Andrews said the service will allow town residents to pay their utilities bills online. She said the town will never have to buy new software again.
Additionally, Cindy Genther, from Rock Hall Properties, came before the council to ask about lowering water and sewer hookup fees to help attract buyers to build on empty lots in the town.
The council, however, choose to keep the hookup fee at $12,000.
Additionally, a community member asked the council to look into an issue of chronic flooding on a lot he owns in the Harbor Woods development.
He said he has owned the lot for 11 years and has dealt with flooding coming from an old broken cement pipe. He said the pipe could become an issue if a child steps in the flooded area and does not see the pipe.
Fithian, also a Kent County commissioner, said he will have someone from the county take a look at the issue.
He said he also was planning on digging a ditch to divert the water from the man’s property.