POINT PLEASANT —At a special meeting on Thursday, Point Pleasant City Council approved the third and final reading of an ordinance amendment that will raise sewer rates.
Though the vote was unanimous for the increase, only six council members were present for the final vote and were Councilman-At-Large Gary Cotton, Council Members William Park, Marshall Bonecutter, Linda Smith, Sam Juniper and Barbara Brown. Thursday night’s meeting was the last for Cotton, Park, Bonecutter, Juniper and Brown. Other outgoing council members who were not at Thursday’s meeting are James Bowles and Leota Sang. Seven new council members will be sworn in on July 1.
Prior to the special meeting, a public hearing took place with residents Betty Owens, Diana Bragg and Paula Anderson speaking out against the rate increases which will take place in two phases.
As previously reported, the first phase of the new amendment to the existing ordinance will go into effect 45 days after Thursday’s vote, 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 regards 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. 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.
These new sewers rates deal with maintaining the existing system and funding the North Point Pleasant Drainage Project (NPPDP). If the city does not move forward with the NPPDP it could face fines from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and/or the Public Service Commission of West Virginia could step in and determine sewer rates without input. It was discussed the city has received letters from WV DEP saying the project must move forward.