By ERIC SCHAADT
NORTH BALTIMORE — Responding to public criticism of a recent hike in sewer rates, North Baltimore Council may adjust its rate structure.
During an informal committee-of-the-whole session Tuesday, Village Council pondered options to ease the burden on residents while meeting its financial obligations.
During last week’s council session, some residents complained of high bills.
Village Council last April raised the minimum sewer rates by $5.25 each month to help pay for the $6.3 million storm/sanitary sewer separation project in the northern portion of North Baltimore.
Sewer rates also were adjusted for customers who use more than 2,000 gallons of water a month.
Council’s Public Utilities Committee has been studying new rate proposals, but no decision was made Tuesday.
Any adjustment would require a vote by the full council.
Two ideas under consideration would be to phase in new rates during the next two or three years.
In a related topic, council wants to revise the schedule for finishing the sewer line separation project.
Delays were caused by the U.S. government’s fall shutdown and the harsh winter.
Substantial completion was slated for next week, a goal that won’t be reached, according to village representatives.
Todd Jenkins of the Findlay engineering firm Peterman Associates said mainline sewer work has been completed. Testing, lateral sewer line work, and other repairs are ongoing.
Council will considered pushing the substantial completion date to July 25.
But the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has funded some of this project, will have a say in the matter, according to village officials.
In a related matter, Councilman Rich Rose took issue with the Findlay firm of Helms and Sons which is handling the line separation work.
Rose questioned the soil compaction method used by the company, which he said has left sinkholes.
Helms’ representatives on Tuesday said their work meets engineering standards.
Mayor Mike Julien sought to referee the dispute between the councilman and construction business.
“In the interest of the community, we have to ask these questions,” Julien said.
Elsewhere, council’s Public Safety Committee suggested that emergency medical technician Will Mathias be offered the vacant post of interim EMS chief for the remainder of the year.
Eric Larson stepped down from the interim post last week because he accepted a paramedic position in Louisiana.
“I’m willing to accept,” Mathias told village officials Tuesday.
Village Council is expected to vote on this hire at next week’s regular council meeting.
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