PIEDMONT - A public hearing for the proposed increase in water usage rates for Piedmont customers was held on Tuesday evening at the American Legion meeting room, and a large crowd of local citizens brought many concerns to the council members.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
PIEDMONT -  A public hearing for the proposed increase in water usage rates for Piedmont customers was held on Tuesday evening at the American Legion meeting room, and a large crowd of local citizens brought many concerns to the council members.
Mayor Paula Boggs told those attending that the public meeting was necessary in order to be in compliance with the requirements of the new ordinance, and John Stump, who wrote the water raise document, was to be present at the meeting to answer any of the public’s questions. However, he was not in attendance.
On citizen voiced their opinion that, “The majority of people in Piedmont cannot afford the water raise.”
If and when the water raise becomes effective, the raise will be based on the installed water meter size, beginning with a five-eighths inch meter to cost the customer a base rate of $42 a month, with eight more different meter sizes, concluding with a 18-inch meter, costing $3,360 a month.
Boggs mentioned there would no person in Piedmont with that size meter.
Local citizen John Amoroso said concerning a water bill raise, the income standards in the community are equal to “low income, no income or fixed income.”
On a related subject dealing with water service to Piedmont, several citizens spoke of their concern about how to keep a water supply coming into the community.
Recently Westernport council members sent a letter to Piedmont saying that their raw water was not available to Piedmont.
The mayor of the of Maryland community, Laura Freeman, said that no other water suppliers could tap into their raw water line.
Freeman added that there was an option for Piedmont to purchase potable water from Westernport for a charge.
Ben Smith, Piedmont’s water commissioner, felt purchasing potable water from Westernport would mean an end to the Piedmont water plant.
He said at the Wednesday meeting, “If we shut down the water plant, it will never start back up.”
Smith also explained that the present raw water coming into Piedmont comes by the way of the Verso property, and he said, “We have been hooked up to the mill for 10 years, and that was only to be temporary.”
He added that the paper company could shut down the water supply after being closed one year and one day, because, “It is not a public utility.”
J. Amoroso told the fellow citizens in attendance that a new water line was run years before on Route 135, and not “one gallon of water has been through it.”
He questioned, “Has anyone checked on that new water line?”
Rick Bulter, Piedmont commissioner, said that there are no records to show information concerning the new lines, saying, “This town has been let go for many years.”
Carolyn Coleman recommended that there be another meeting to hear facts about the water situation and she said that the meeting should be a “show and tell,” with charts and handouts.
Boggs announced that the final reading of the new water ordinance could not happen as scheduled to take place at the regular council meeting following the public hearing.