During Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Leonard “Buster” Riffle updated the city’s administration on the status of the rate increase, which originally was scheduled to go into effect Feb. 1 but has been delayed by a formal protest from the Town of Henderson.
The complaint was filed in January and temporarily delayed a 45 percent sewer rate increase in the city. The protest was filed with the Public Service Commission by Henderson Mayor Jack McCoy, and according to the formal complaint, McCoy alleges that sewer customers in the Town of Henderson are being discriminated against and are being asked to contribute funds for a problem they have not created.
Last month, Riffle said that because Henderson’s sewer system belongs to the City of Point Pleasant, the town is considered a single customer and has no reason to protest.
Riffle added there has been much correspondence between the city and the PSC in the past few weeks and that the city has been notified of a possible public hearing set later this month with an administrative law judge. However, that hearing will be canceled if the protest is dismissed.
The increase, which was approved during a meeting in December and would have been the city’s first sewer rate hike since 2001, is necessary to comply with improvements mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection to fix the city’s combined sewer overflow (CSO). The money generated by the increase will be split among two accounts, with $1.50 per every 1,000 gallons being directed into a CSO account and the remainder being added to the general sewer account.
In other business,
• Approved 9-0 resolutions for four grants from the West Virginia Community Participation Grant Program: $4,000 for the city building; $5,000 for the Mason County Convention and Visitors Bureau; $15,000 for the city’s proposed skatepark; and $18,000 for the Main Street Point Pleasant organization.
Councilwoman Elaine Hunt was absent from the meeting.
• Approved 9-0 a resolution for a transportation enhancement grant of $160,000 for the Main Street Point Pleasant organization for continued work on the A.F. Kisar House.
• Approved 8-0 the low bid of $20,895 to purchase a truck from John Sang Ford Lincoln Mercury for the water department. Councilwoman Leota Sang abstained from the vote.
• Were updated on the status of work being done by Burgess and Niple regarding the drainage project on the north end of the city. (See related story.)
• Were asked to consider additional funding for the Mason County Public Library when planning the upcoming fiscal year’s budget.
The city currently contributes $2,000 to the library each year, but because the library system will be required to match its $119,000 in state funding with local funds, library officials are asking municipalities for additional help.
• Were asked for verbal approval of a renovation project at Harmon Park, where members of the Mason County Little League are preparing for two phases of improvements.
League members also discussed current drainage problems on some of the ballfields at the park and said they plan to apply for grants and other forms of funding for the proposed renovation, including work on the restroom facilities.
• Were told that Brian Billings, city clerk, Teka McCauley, administrative assistant, and Shannon Pearson, accountant, will attend a budget preparation workshop Friday in Charleston.
• Observed a moment of silence in honor of B.R. Deweese, an employee of the street department who passed away Monday.
• Scheduled a budget finance meeting for Feb. 18.
• Scheduled a sewer committee meeting for Feb. 19 to discuss the Lakin sewer project and the feasibility of transferring sewage to the city’s system.
• Adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
The next regular meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, March 9.