Elkton Budget, Fee Hikes Approved
Town Council passed proposed rate increases and Elkton’s fiscal 2014 budget that included them at a special session Thursday, according to town officials.
Council adopted the spending plan, which takes effect with the start of the new fiscal year on Monday, despite complaints from several residents at a June 17 public hearing that instead of raising utility rates, the town’s $5.18 million budget should be cut.
But the consensus among council members — the budget passed on a 4-1 vote — was that the rate increases were a necessity if Elkton is going to fix its aging infrastructure.
“[We’ve got] a lot of sewer pipes that are busted, a lot of water pipes that are leaking,” Councilman Jay Dean said on his decision to vote for the budget, including increases.
The increases for water, sewer and trash — all going up by 1.7 percent — were broken up into residential, industrial and commercial categories.
The new rates for residential and industrial usage passed on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Wayne Printz dissenting. Councilman Theo Pence was absent. Printz, who owns Elkton Car Wash, abstained from voting in the commercial category, which passed 4-0.
The budget then passed 4-1 with Printz again in dissent.
Printz, who could not immediately be reached for comment for this story, strenuously voiced opposition to any and all rate increases throughout Elkton’s most recent budget process.
The total cost for all water, sewer and trash increases combined averages to about $1.01 per household per month, or a little more than $12 a year, according to Town Manager Kevin Fauber.
The increases follow a policy approved last year that rates would be tied to inflation based on the consumer price index.
Dean and Councilman Josh Gooden cited the 25 percent hike Grottoes approved for its water and sewer rates as the reason to adopt small increases over time. Grottoes Town Council approved the increases to help cover the costs of upgrades to the town’s wastewater treatment plant and for replacing aging infrastructure.
“One dollar extra every few years is better than being thrown with $10 a month extra every five or 10 years or something like that,” Gooden said.
On complaints the budget should be trimmed, Dean noted the spending plan is less than the one for fiscal 2013, which totaled $5.2 million. One cut, Gooden said, was a decrease from $25,000 to $20,000 for economic development.
Dean and Gooden said they would consider amending the just-passed budget if areas can be found to cut spending.
“There might be a few things we could look at later on. The budget is not cast in stone,” Dean said.
Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org