2021 | Government

County Council agrees to 6.5% increase for maximum water-rate hike

Montgomery, Prince George’s agree; water utility had proposed 9%

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The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a recommendation to increase water rates by a maximum of 6.5% in the upcoming year, agreeing with Prince George’s County lawmakers.

County Council President Tom Hucker told colleagues that even though he and other council members previously agreed to a 6% increase, Prince George’s County Council Members met Tuesday and agreed on a 6.5% increase.

Hucker said that state law requires both counties to agree on a maximum proposed rate increase. If they don’t, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s proposed 9% maximum increase could take effect, he said. 

The Prince George’s County Council approved the maximum 6.5% increase during its meeting Tuesday in a 10-0 vote. The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved 6.5% in its afternoon session on Tuesday.

The current average quarterly water bill for Montgomery County and Prince George’s counties is $241.04. WSSC’s proposed 9% increase would raise that to $262.70 — a $21.66 increase.

Montgomery County officials believed that proposal was too high, given how many county residents are facing economic hardship due to the pandemic. 

Joe Beach, deputy general manager of administration for WSSC, previously told Bethesda Beat that the increase was needed for multiple reasons, including to recoup lost revenue during the coronavirus pandemic and pay for increasing supply and labor costs.

He also said WSSC had not received any federal or state aid during the pandemic.

Both counties and WSSC will finalize the maximum water rate increase during its annual bicounty budget process in the spring of 2022. 

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com