For the fourth time in two weeks, Prince George's commissioners on the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission held up a vote on steep new fees to cover the higher costs of water and sewer connections.
The county's three commissioners on the suburban Maryland commission said they did not want to vote on the increases - which in some cases could raise present fees to connect to the water and sewer system from $1,095 to $4,150 - until they were more fully explained in county neighborhoods that would be most affected.
Montgomery County Commissioner David R. Scotton, however, called the delay "irresponsible" and said Prince George's County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., who is in a tight race for reelection, is trying to postpone a rate increase until after the Nov. 7 election.
"If it weren't costing all the rate-payers $40,000 a week, I could sit until after the election, if it bothers Mr. Kelly," Scotton said. "But I think it's irresponsible."
WSSC general manager Robert S. McGarry has estimated that the WSSC loses $40,000 every week the new charges are not imposed.
However, a move by the three Montgomery commissioners to have the rates approved failed when the Price George's delegation would not budge.
Prince George' commissioner Johnanna S. Norris, who is chairman of the WSSC, said she and the other two county commissioners would hold a session with citizens from various Prince George's neighborhoods Tuesday, and then be prepared to vote on the rates the following day at the next regular WSSC meeting.
The higher fees are based on what the WSSC says is the actual cost of hooking up homes to the water and sewer system.
For example, while water-sewer connections for homes in a new subdivision would rise only $5 - to $1,100 - fees for new construction in existing neighborhoods would increased to $4,150 and those for present houses whose owners want hookups would go up to $1,525.
McGarry has said the higher fees for connection in existing neighborhoods are needed because excavation are related construction in those areas is more expensive.
At present, there are standard fees for connections - $455 for water anc. $640 for sewer.