WSSC FY 18 Rates Likely Up 3.5%

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The Montgomery and Prince George’s County Councils have taken preliminary actions to limit water and sewer rate increases to no more than 3.5% for the WSSC budget year beginning July 1, 2017. WSSC rates remain highly contentious as Council Members attempt to balance system infrastructure needs against customer rate increase fatigue.

Adding to the acrimony is the near universal distain for WSSC’s unique rate structure that applies increasing rates to all water and sewer usage as water consumption increases. In a citizen’s challenge to the rate system, the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Chief Utility Law Judge ruled on Sept. 9 that the current rate structure was “unduly discriminatory among classes of customers, and as such is unreasonable.”

The Commission has retained a consultant to assist in evaluating alternate rate structures, with the goal of having the two County Councils adopt a new rate structure effective July 1, 2018. AOBA is also participating on WSSC’s Stakeholder Representative Group over the next two months to provide input to the consultant and the Commission on alternate rate design.

Finally, we note that Montgomery County Delegate Al Carr has requested the Montgomery County Delegation to sponsor state legislation that would enable WSSC to adopt classes of service rates. AOBA and other business groups had strongly objected to similar legislation at the 2016 General Assembly session, noting that the bill would enable the Commission to adopt higher service rates specific to businesses. Currently, all water and sewer rates must apply uniformly to all customers, regardless of customer type. The bill will receive a Delegation hearing in Rockville on the evening of either Dec. 5 or 7.