Water rates in Hagerstown are skyrocketing – residents should get ready 

March 19 – Hagerstown Mayor and Council will hold a work session this afternoon at 4 p.m. in Council Chambers at 1 E. Franklin Street where an increase in water rates will be discussed. 

The city partnered with NewGen Strategies and Solutions to create a proposed model for the water and wastewater rate increase. 

Water bills will go up 14% each year over the next three years and wastewater rates will go up 13% each year over the next three years. 

Wes Decker, Communications Officer with the City of Hagerstown, said, “Here’s the way it’s gone over the last five years. The rates have increased each year 3%. So that’s 3% year over year.”

What made the rates go up so drastically this year? 

Decker said, “We talked about this, I believe last month on the electric side, that the Hagerstown light department did not raise rates in nearly 20 years here in Hagerstown. As I said, I mean, there’s been an increase each year, over the last five years at least, that’s as far as I go back here, on the water side. But what they’re talking about here in terms of the need for raising the rates, and at such a steep rate, is that there are upgrades to existing water and wastewater facilities that are now under way and the Maryland Department of the Environment is on the brink of approving a second raw water source on the Antietam for the city of Hagerstown and a new water treatment plant. So that would be a major undertaking from an infrastructure side of things. As a result, that expected cost that would go along with a project like that would be a pretty expensive one.”

What about those who are hooked up to the water outside the city system? 

Decker said, “There are what are called benefit charges, which go to customers who connect to the water and or wastewater system, and those charges would certainly be looked at. Most likely they would be raised, too, so that would be a way of supplementing the payment for some of this infrastructure. I think it’ll be a pretty robust and spirited discussion. Again, this will be the presentation of this proposed rate model, but the council will have a lot to say about it, and ultimately, they’ll make a decision.”

Also at tonight’s work session, mayor and council will discuss the renewal of a contract for the red light cameras in the city. 

Wes Decker, Communications Officer with the City of Hagerstown, said, “That’s a program that the city actually piggybacked off of with Howard County. So there’ll be that discussion. Also the grant coordinator position, which is something that has been filled here at the city ever since ARPA came into play. We no longer have a grant coordinator at this point. So there will be a discussion about whether we need one going forward? Then an update on Chapter 64 to address the issues identified in the transient housing inspections, something that I feel like we’ve been talking about for the last two or three years, but it looks like we’re finally finalizing something as far as that item is concerned.”

The meeting can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel or Facebook page and the public is welcome to attend in person. 
For this afternoon’s agenda, click here.