Sewer rate increases pass second hurdle


August 22, 2012

POINT PLEASANT — During a special meeting this week, Point Pleasant City Council unanimously voted on the second of three ordinance amendment readings regarding sewer rate increases.

As previously reported, before members of the previous council left office, sewer raises were finally voted in earlier this summer. However, due to a discrepancy related to timing and filing issues in regards to the ordinance, the process had to start all over — at least the process of voting on the ordinance three times before it’s enacted.

These new sewer rates deal with maintaining the existing system and funding the North Point Pleasant Drainage Project (NPPDP). If the ordinances passes, new sewer rates will go into effect 45 days after the third reading passes. The final vote is expected to take place at council’s next regular meeting on Sept. 10.

As previously reported, even though there has been a call for a new vote, there have been no changes to the amendment’s language in regard to what the previous council voted in during their last meeting this past June. The new amendment to the existing ordinance contains two phases of rate increases — again, the first going into effect 45 days after that third reading passes but the second phase goes into effect only after the project has been substantially completed. Council has discussed revisiting the phase two rates before they are implemented with the hope of receiving grants or funds to pay on the principal for the project. If these funds are found, this could result in lowering the rates though that decision is down the road and will be considered when the project is, again, substantially completed.

In regard to the first phase, residential customers currently pay $4.62 per 1,000 gallons used — that will go to $5.90 per 1,000 gallons used with each customer being charged for a minimum of 3,000 gallons each month. This means, customers who use 3,000 gallons or less are currently being charged a minimum bill of $13.86 — this will go to $17.70 per month for that 3,000 gallons, if the ordinance passes. Once the ordinance passes, the current Combined Sewer Overflow charge of $1.72 per 1,000 gallons for customers will also be removed and customers no longer charged this fee.

The raise in rates contained in phase two are as follows — customers will be charged $9 per 1,000 gallons of water with the customer continuing to be charged for a minimum of 3,000 gallons. This means customers who use 3,000 gallons or less of water will be charged a minimum of $27 per month. So to break it down, customers in Point Pleasant (who use 3,000 gallons or less of water each month) will go from paying $13.86 to $17.70 and finally $27 when the project is substantially completed.

Prior to this week’s special meeting, a public hearing on the NPPDP was held, affording residents the chance to speak with project engineers about the project and how it will affect their property. In addition to securing funding via the sewer rate raise, the City of Point Pleasant must have 80 percent of the right-0f-ways for the project via the owners of affected property. Prior to the the public hearing, the city had around 50 percent of these right-of-ways secured. City officials hope the meeting will prompt more signatures on right-of-ways so the project can move forward. The project is 6,700 feet long with part of that across a large culvert.

Other business:

Council approved a proposal by the West Virginia Department of Transportation to replace the traffic signal at 28th St. and Sandhill Rd. This will include replacing poles, sidewalk and curb repair and installing push button signs associated with the crosswalk.

Council approved supporting the Wreaths Across America program which will locally be facilitated by the Daughters of the American Revolution. This national program places wreaths on the graves of veterans and these wreaths will be placed at locations in Point Pleasant and across Mason County.

A motion to draft a letter of support for the Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action (KISRA) which spokespeople said attempt to buy land and build affordable housing in communities, died for lack of a motion.

Mayor Brian Billings reported the city had heard from CSX about making repairs to railroad crossings at 12th St. and 22nd. St. CSX has told the city officials it will start to address these issues within the next three weeks.

Billings also reported on the floodwall gate assembly near the Point Pleasant Boat Landing this past Sunday with he and Councilman Bob Rulen commending city workers for their handling of the drill mandated by the federal government. Billings said the assembly went slightly longer than anticipated, saying it lasted around 8 hours - the drill was estimated to last around 6.5 hours.

Council members in attendance were Janet Hartley, Charles Towner, Rulen, Elaine Hunt, Rick Simpkins, Keith Sargent, Allen Moran, Bob Doeffinger.