Hearing to examine fees charges by utilities, developers to connect to public water and sewer system

September 20, 2013

Critics call it the “developers’ retirement account.” State Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s) says some of his constituents think they are being fleeced.

On Wednesday, Peters will ask members of the public to air concerns about fees that utilities and developers charge for water and sewer connections, and whether that matches up with actual costs.

Peters is chairing a legislative task force examining the fees after discovering that he could replace a pipe linking his Bowie home to the public water supply at a price far lower than he paid Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission several years earlier.

And if he were buying a new home today, he’d probably be paying the fee for water and sewer connections directly to the developer or homeowners’ association. WSSC, which serves Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, several years ago began to allow private companies to install water and sewer connections and then collect fees for the installations.

In some cases, those fees are spread over more than 20 years. But there has been little oversight by the government, and some residents have complained that the fees, which sometimes are labeled “front foot benefit charge,” were not disclosed when they bought their homes. Peters said he has heard of problems across the state beyond WSSC’s service area.

Peters wants to figure out whether anyone is profiting and not disclosing the markup, and whether there should be clearer requirements for disclosure of fees and costs.

The hearing is scheduled for 6 -8 p.m. Wednesday at WSSC, 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel.

To sign up to testify, email douglas.peters@senate.state.md.us or call 301-858-3631.

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