POINT PLEASANT — Discussion about the possibility of raising sewer rates has not gone down the drain though rates have gone back to the drawing board.
After being unable to bring previously presented sewer rate increases to a vote, Point Pleasant City Council went back to to the beginning, not necessarily staring over but certainly considering other possible rates.
Present at this week’s council meeting was Jack Miller of Griffith and Associates Accounting Firm out of Charleston. Miller has been assisting the city with various scenarios when it comes to determining sewer rate increases to fund the North Point Pleasant Drainage Project (NPPDP) and the city’s sewer system as a whole. Miller presented council with different rate options for consideration. Miller said there are 326 sewer utilities in the state of West Virginia and Point Pleasant’s rates rank at number 34, meaning there are nearly 300 other entities in the state with higher rates. Of course, if the city votes to raise rates, it will move up in the rankings.
Miller maintained the current rates, and the new rates the city had been considering, were still low compared to the rest of the state. However, Councilman Sam Juniper said he felt income rates in Point Pleasant were also significantly less than income rates in the other communities Miller had referenced.
Juniper said he was not against raising rates in general but had a problem with placing a 3,000-gallon minimum usage fee. He felt this fee is unfair to those sewer customers who use less than 3,000 gallons a month, saying there are 1,500 customers who currently fall into this category. Councilman Bob Doeffinger argued most municipalities do have a set rate for service to be connected on to (and maintain) that sewage system and the city was charged with finding a fair and equitable fee for all customers.
The new rates presented by Miller were referred to the sewer committee which will then return to council with its recommendations. Miller said even if the city wasn’t faced with financing the NPPDP, it would still likely need to raise sewer rates to maintain the cost of operating the existing system.
In other NPPDP news, City Attorney RF Stein said he’d received all right-of-ways for the project from Attorney Craig Tatterson, who is assisting Stein with this aspect of the project. Stein received around 91 right-of-ways and said he has mailed them all, receiving 21 back, so far. The city needs 80 percent of these right-of-ways before ground can be broken on the project.
In other business:
Council approved a business proposal by First Data Merchants Services, which is locally affiliated with Peoples Bank, to provide the city with the capability to take debit payments for water bills, municipal fees, court fines, business taxes, etc.
(Editor’s note: This is one of two stories on this week’s meeting of Point Pleasant City Council.)