Legislation Considered for Water & Sewer Hookup Fees

An October 20 Washington Post article reports that Senator Douglas Peters is considering legislation that would require the full terms of a water and sewer connection fee to be disclosed to a homeowner.  The legislation is in response to concerns raised about developer-imposed fees in Prince Geoerge’s and Montgomery Counties, although the practice of allowing developers to charge the fees is not limited to those areas.  From the article:

State Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s) began hearing complaints about the [water and sewer connection] charge from constituents in new developments as he walked his district in the summer of 2011. Many said they did not understand the charge, how it was calculated or how much interest they were paying.

The amount of the charge can vary from neighbor to neighbor, and the relationship of the charge to the actual cost of installing the water and sewer lines is rarely disclosed. There is no legal requirement to provide that information to the homeowner, Peters’s panel learned.

“There is no clearinghouse for these developers; there is no registry,” Peters said.

“You have what I call a huge mystery in terms of these fees. Most people want to know what they are paying, why they are paying what they are paying, why my fee is $600 and that other person’s is $1,400,” he said.

Peters said he plans to introduce legislation next year to try to smooth the process. He hopes to require more disclosure of costs for installation, interest rates, and any discount available to homeowners if they can pay off the charge early.

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