Del. Charles E. Barkley got little support Monday before the Montgomery County Council as he asked for support for a pair of bills.
One could make it easier for gas companies to recoup expenses and the other would increase the size of the Montgomery County Board of Education.
Under the first measure, a gas company could recover costs for infrastructure improvements through a surcharge as opposed to a rate case with the Maryland Public Service Commission.
During a council briefing, Barkley (D-Dist. 39) of Germantown said the bill would save gas customers money in the long run.
Gas utilities would pay for projects as they happen through the surcharge — also known as a tracker — instead of in advance with borrowed capital, he said.
But the bill also transfers risk to the consumer and lowers the incentive for gas utilities to keep project costs down, said Del. Al C. Carr (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, who also attended the briefing.
“I do not support the bill,” Carr said.
Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda, as well as councilmen Hans Riemer and George L. Leventhal, both at-large Democrats from Takoma Park, questioned if the bill bore unintended consequences, possibly opening the door for other utilities, including Pepco, to receive similar permission.
Pepco has asked the PSC for a tracker as part of its current $60 million rate case and sent a representative to the briefing Monday.
His bill to change the composition of the school board also has struggled to garner support among the county’s state delegation.
Barkley said he is pulling a provision from his bill in hopes it can gain enough support among the delegation to advance.
As introduced, Barkley’s bill would have both expanded the board from seven to nine members and had five of those members elected by district as opposed to the current system in which members must live in specific districts but run countywide.
Barkley said he is pulling the district election piece out to give the bill a better chance.
Barkley asked for the council to support the bill’s remaining provision to increase the size of the board, but the council held its initial position against adding members to the board.
Among the other issues discussed by the council was a proposal to raise state transportation funding through more taxes on gasoline.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach is proposing both a 3 percent sales tax on the wholesale cost of gasoline, which he said could raise $300 million per year, and the creation of regional transportation authorities that could generate revenue for transit projects.
The proposal has earned early approval from County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and County Council President Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring.
Staff Writer Daniel Leaderman contributed to this report.