MetCom Executive Director Scott Bundy holds up a bottle of water purchased at WaWa to show a comparison for how cheaply MetCom delivers water.

California, MD — Ever since the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission (MetCom) instituted a new rate structure last summer there has been anecdotal evidence of large increases for some customers. But, when time came for the public to be heard on proposed relatively small rate increases for the next fiscal year beginning in July, only three people complained about rates. The occasion was the April 7 MetCom public hearing on their proposed operating and capital budgets at their office in California.

But the light turnout didn’t dissuade Commissioner of St. Mary’s County Todd Morgan [R – 4th District]. who was in the audience, from wanting to know the big picture. He asked that by the time the commissioners and MetCom get together next that the commission’s staff provide an answer to the following question–how many customers are paying more and how many are paying less under the new rate structure?

Morgan was also critical of the fact that when the public hearing began only three commission members, less than a quorum, were present although a fourth member did show up later. Three of the five county commissioners were in attendance,

President Randy Guy [R] and Commissioner Mike Hewitt [R – 2nd District] in addition to Morgan,Commission Chairman Steve Willing, Vice Chairman Bob Russell and member Mike Mummaugh were in attendance at the start of the meeting and member Mike Thompson showed up later.

Morgan said the lack of a quorum was particularly troubling considering the recent controversy over salaries at the commission. Yet during the public comment section there was no mention of that issue. Instead speakers concentrated on the rates, particularly for water usage for lawn irrigation.

Colin Boynton, representing a homeowners’ association, said they were caught in the trap of having a larger-sized meter. The commission’s new rate structure is based on meter size under the theory the larger the meter the larger the potential water usage. Boynton said the meter was installed when it wasn’t known they would be penalized for it.

Boynton suggested that the commission use a measure of the median usage throwing out the lowest and highest annual amounts so that a more level charge would be imposed.

Homeowner Paula Roberts said that her residence got hit with a $300 water bill because of sprinkler usage. The commission is proposing to cap the residential 5/8th inch meter usage at 10,000 gallons per month and also eliminate the ready to serve charge for residential deduct irrigation systems.

MetCom Executive Director Scott Bundy explained that the agency operates 28 water systems, 70 wells, 16 elevated water storage tanks, seven sewage treatment plants and 63 pumping stations. The proposed operating budget is $9.5 million in the sewer division and $5.2 million in the water division. The proposed capital budget is $79.6 million.

The budget includes one step increase and a one-percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for MetCom employees. The budget includes five new employees, according to a presentation from Chief Financial Officer Becky Shick.

The public record on the budget will remain open until April 19 for written comments, which can be sent to MetCom’s Administrative Office, 23121 Camden Way, California, MD 20619 or comments can be emailed to budget

Contact Dick Myers at