November 23, 2017

Misconceptions About MetCom: Facts 3 & 4

MetCom waterline
Posted for St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission

Don’t believe everything you hear—–especially as it relates to the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission. YOUR local public water and sewer utility, MetCom, is often the subject of ambiguity and misunderstanding. Following are a few of the more widely-accepted public misconceptions about MetCom, followed by the facts of the matter.

            Misconception:    MetCom controls or directs development in the County.

            Fact:    St. Mary’s County government, through the County planning staff at the Department of Land Use and Growth Management, the County Planning Commission, the Board of County Commissioners and the various planning and growth ordinances is responsible for directing growth and development in St. Mary’s County. Currently, MetCom extends public water and/or sewer lines only in accordance with specific directives and approvals from the entities and ordinances referenced herein above. MetCom’s role in the public water and sewer services in this County is limited to how such services are provided, not where, to whom or when the services are provided. Every single capital improvement project undertaken by MetCom, whether for the comprehensive rehabilitation of an existing system or the expansion of services to new areas, must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners before any such project may proceed. It is the County, and not MetCom that determines what areas of the County will receive public water and/or sewer services and when such services are to be provided.

Misconception: Metcom spends and borrows too much money on its capital projects.

Fact:    MetCom is statutorily required to obtain approval from the Board of County Commissioners of its annual capital improvement budget and is further required to obtain County Commissioner approval of every dollar borrowed for any capital project. Constructing and replacing as necessary public water distribution and sewer collection and treatment systems, in accordance with all state and federal regulations and mandates, is an expensive endeavor. MetCom borrows the money needed for these capital costs at the lowest possible interest rates from certain State programs offered through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

MetCom engages in a lengthy process of prioritizing its capital project needs in accordance with all applicable planning directives from the County, prior to proposing a capital improvement budget for County Commissioner approval. Once each annual capital budget is approved, MetCom further obtains specific approval from the County Commissioners every time money is borrowed to fund the approved capital budget. MetCom only constructs those capital projects which are critically necessary to provide safe public water and sewerage systems, in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements, to the citizens of St. Mary’s County, as directly approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

There are more Metcom Facts this week in The Leader.

Inaccurate, or partial, information about any matter can be confusing and misleading. Because we have touched upon only a very few of the public misconceptions about MetCom, we invite your inquiries and hope that you will reach out to MetCom Commissioners and staff with your questions and concerns. You can reach us on the web at www.metcom.org. Look for our new and improved website set to launch in early November. You may also contact us by telephone at 301.737.7400. We are part of your community and we are here to serve you.

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