Let’s talk about parking and sewer and wastewater rates in Hagerstown

June 4 – Hagerstown Mayor and Council will have a work session this afternoon at 3 p.m. at 1 E. Franklin Street in Council Chambers. 

At last week’s regular session, mayor council voted on a rate for parking in the parking garages of $2 an hour, which means costs could go up to $24 a day.

Wes Decker, Communications Officer for the City of Hagerstown, confirmed, “That is correct. It would be $2 an hour for 12 hours. I’m not sure that anybody is actually going to be there for the full 12 hours. I just wanted to mention the revised parking facilities rates and fees. That vote was 3-2 and there is the potential for that to come back at some point in time, but it is not on the agenda for today just to make that clear.” 

Last week, mayor and council also voted on 13% rate increases on sewer and wastewater. 

Decker said it would be “13% each for the next three fiscal years starting with fiscal year ‘25, which is the upcoming fiscal year.”

This afternoon’s work session will see a discussion about the water increase.

Decker said, “As far as the water rate model, the city had hired NewGen Strategies and Solutions to come up with that water rate model, which again initially outlined increasing the rate 14% each of the next three fiscal years. The council decided that they only wanted to vote on fiscal year ‘25 and a 14% increase for next year and then talk about it some more. So that discussion will ensue at today’s meeting. We will have Michael Baker, a partner from NewGen Strategies and Solutions on hand along with our director of utilities to answer questions and engage in that conversation with the mayor and council.” 

The increases are likely going to end up costing $10 to $15 more per quarter per person. 

Decker said, “I’m not going to sugarcoat it in any way because most of us here are going to be paying those same rates. We don’t like to see rates go up and to hear 14% or 13%, you’re kind of jumping out of your skin because there’s a lot of shock value to that. But when it really boils down to it, it’s not the largest increase in the world from a dollars and cents standpoint. But make no make no bones about it. It is still increasing for sure and the reason for that increase again, is to pay for capital improvement projects related to water and wastewater and just shore up the infrastructure.”

Did anybody voice any opinion on the issues last meeting? 

Decker said, “There was what I would call a contingent of individuals concerned about the parking rates, mainly business owners in the downtown area, also Paul Frey, the CEO and President of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce all weighed in. As far as water and wastewater, I don’t know that I recall anyone having anything to say about those rates. There might have been one individual, but there hasn’t been a lot, which again, is a bit surprising, given again, when you hear 13% or 14%. To me that gets my attention in a big, big hurry. So I don’t know whether people haven’t necessarily been paying enough attention or if they’re just resigned to the fact that, hey, this is what it’s going to be and it’s perhaps not as big a deal as hearing that particular increase in terms of percentage. There was certainly more representation as relates to people talking about the parking rates.”

Tonight’s work session will also discuss a full time job to help the community engagement officer. 

Decker said, “Then also the establishment of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. That’s something that mayor and council wanted to bring to the table.”

While there will be no public comment this afternoon, community members are encouraged to attend in person or watch the meeting via the city’s YouTube Channel or Facebook Page. 
For the agenda, click here.