QA's sewer customers may
see rate hikes
CENTREVILLE - Customers of Queen Anne's County's public sewer system could see a sharp increase in their quarterly (or in some cases monthly) sewer bills starting in January.
The Queen Anne's County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Monday, Nov. 12 on a proposal to increase sewer user fees by 28 percent. The hearing will start at 7 p.m. at Kent Island High School.
The county Department of Public Works Advisory Board recommended the rate increase in an extensive report submitted to the county commissioners.
The county commissioner voted 5-0 on Oct. 22 to schedule the hearing on the recommended increases. Commissioner Gene Ransom said he didn't oppose holding a hearing, but had concerns about the advisory board's recommendations. He said a 28 percent rate increase was "draconian."
Commissioner Paul Gunther said the people using the sewer system should pay for the improvements to it. He said some residents in his district (commissioner district 2, which includes the Centreville and Queenstown areas) still don't have indoor plumbing.
The advisory board said the higher rates are needed to pay the county's debt service on a loan it obtained from the state for upgrading and expanding the county's sewage treatment plant on Kent Island known as the Kent Narrows Stevensville Grasonville wastewater treatment plant.
The KNSG public sewer system serves parts of Kent Island and Grasonville and the Kent Narrows area. A major project was done from 2005 to 2007 that expanded the plant's treatment capacity (from 2 million gallons per day to 3 million gpd) and upgraded the plant with enhanced nutrient removal capability, which reduces the amount of nitrogen discharged into the Chesapeake Bay.
The $32.3 million project was paid for with grants totaling $14,100,772 and $18,252,291 borrowed from the state's water quality revolving loan fund. The county has to pay an annual debt service of $1,059,813 for 20 years.
According to the advisory board, a 14 percent increase in sewer user fees is needed to pay an annual debt service of $523,758.5 for the ENR upgrade, and a 14 percent increase is needed to pay an annual debt service of $536,056.42 for the additional 1 million gpd capacity.
The KNSG plant and collection system is operated by the county Sanitary District. The district has five subdistricts, with different rate schedules for each. There are rates for 28 classes of users, including residential, agricultural, schools, and many types of businesses.
A 28 percent increase in
the per home sewer fee would result in the following rate increases:
In the Cloverfields Water and Wastewater Subdistrict, for homes on the monthly billing plan, the ready to serve charge would increase from $23.57 to $30.17, and the use per 1,000 gallons charge would increase from $2.53 to $3.24. For homes not connected to public water, the monthly ready to serve charge would increase from $39.63 to $50.73.
For homes on the quarterly billing plan, the ready to serve charge would increase from $70.72 to $90.52, and the use per 1,000 gallons charge would increase from $2.53 to $3.24. For homes not connected to public water, the quarterly ready to serve charge would increase from $118.87 to $152.15.
In the Bay City Water and Wastewater Subdistrict, for homes on the monthly billing plan, the ready to serve charge would increase from $23.57 to $30.17, and the use per 1,000 gallons charge would increase from $2.53 to $3.24. For homes not connected to public water, the monthly ready to serve charge would increase from $39.63 to $50.73.
For customers on the quarterly billing plan, the ready to serve charge would increase from 470.72 to $90.52, and the use per 1,000 gallons charge would increase from $2.53 to $3.24. For homes not connected to public water, the quarterly ready to serve charge would increase from $118.87 to $152.15.
In the Prospect Bay Water and Wastewater Subdistricts, for sewer customers on the quarterly billing plan, the ready to serve charge would increase from $76.72 to $90.20, and the use per 1,000 gallons charge would increase from $2.53 to $3.24. For customers on the monthly billing plan, the ready to serve charge would increase from $25.57 to $32.73. and the use per 1,000 gallons charge would increase from $2.53 to $3.24.
County sewer customers also pay a customer charge of $6 per quarter or $2 per month.
Sewer customers in the KNSG Area Wastewater subdistrict also pay a front footage of 5 cents per foot per quarter; residential customers pay a minimum of $3.45 per quarter, and all others pay a minimum of $4.025 per quarter.
If the 28 percent rate increase is approved, a homeowner in the KNSG Area Wastewater Subdistrict whose home is not connected to public water would see his total annual bill for public sewer increase by about $125 from $485.92 to $611.40.
In its report, the advisory board said the 14 percent increase for the ENR upgrade would stay constant, but there was a possibility the 14 percent increase for the plant's expanded treatment capacity would be reduced if more new customers hooked up to the sewer system.
Alan Quimby, chief county sanitary engineer, said the 28 percent increase would cover all county debt service for the KNSG plant upgrade and expansion project. He said the sewer fees would be reviewed each July.
As an example, he said if the sanitary district got allocation fees paid by 100 more homes connecting into the sewer system, the 28 percent increase come down. Quimby said there have been no more than 20 new connections to the sewer system in 2007.
Steve Walls, county public works director, said the 28 percent increase is "essentially the amount of money that all the users would pay" to ensure the debt service is paid. He said the county public sewer system has about 6,500 to 6,600 customers.
Other fee increases are recommended
in the advisory board's report. An increase in the connection fee for most
of the 28 classes of users is recommended for new public water customers
in the KNSG Area Water Subdistrict. The fee for a house connecting to public
water would increase from $3,650 to $3,750.
By KONRAD SUROWIEC, Staff Writer, November 7, 2007, The Star Democrat
CENTREVILLE - Area residential and commercial development projects could increase traffic on Kent Island roads along U.S. Route 50 by 45 percent, according to a computer model presented Tuesday to the Queen Anne's County Commissioners.
Dr. Michael Scott, a geographer and geoscientist from Salisbury University, gave a PowerPoint presentation on a "microsimulation visualization" that compares existing and future traffic scenarios on Kent Island roads that access Route 50. The study was funded in 2003 by the Kent Island Defense League to look at the potential impact on traffic from the Four Seasons housing development at Kent Island.
Four Seasons, a planned residential development by K. Hovnanian Companies, would include 1,350 homes and an assisted living facility on land north of U.S. Route 50 near Castle Marina Road. It would be an age-restricted community for people 55 and older. KIDL opposes the project. The project is on hold while lawsuits filed by Kent Island residents challenging the plan are litigated in the courts.
Scott emphasized he isn't a traffic engineer. But he said microsimulation visualization is a valuable tool that traffic engineers can use in addition to determining the critical lane value, which gives a letter grade for an intersection's level of service.
The microsimulation model for Kent Island looked at several roads, including state Route 8, state Route 18, Castle Marina Road, Postal Road, Main Street and Piney Creek Road. Under the scenario based on a 2003 traffic study, there were 6,605 vehicle trips in the afternoon peak hour (4:15 to 5:15 p.m.) on a winter day .
The future scenario took into account traffic expected from up to 15 regional housing and economic development projects that are planned, said Scott. He said the computer model shows 9,630 vehicle trips in the peak afternoon hour under the future scenario, about a 45 percent increase.
"The amount of cars actually overwhelmed our model," said Scott.
Conclusions of the study
While a microsimulation visualization of the Four Seasons traffic study reveals negligible impact from the development, some assumptions made by the traffic engineer are questioned.
illuminates the dynamic nature of traffic. Its dynamic nature and ability
to visualize can make it an additional valuable tool next to critical lane
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