Delinquent customers will see service cut off

By David Hedges, Publisher

Struggling with overdue bills of almost $85,000, including nearly $30,000 owed to their own system operators, Mt. Zion Public Service District is looking forward to higher water rates.

The PSD has applied to the W.Va. Public Service Commission for not one - but two rate increases.

One is an emergency rate increase to help pay expenses. The other is to cover a rate hike from the PSD's water supplier, the Grantsville waterworks, which raised Mt. Zion PSD's water bill by about $2,000 per month.

PSD administrative assistant Norma Collins told PSD members Sharon Postalwait, Roscoe "Cokey" Gainer and Shirley Mace the two increases the PSD is seeking, combined, would amount to about 30 percent more on the average water customer's bill.

She said both requests were pending before the WV PSC.

"Hopefully, that approval will come very soon," Collins said during a PSD meeting Monday at Arnoldsburg.

PSD members and water and sewer operators Tom Fluharty and Harold "Dick" Ullum also discussed problems with customers who don't pay their bill but continue to receive water.

This was after Ullum pointed out that the two men, working as contractors for the system, are owed almost $30,000 by the PSD.

"That's why you aren't getting paid, people are stealing the water," was a response.

Fred Rader of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council said the PSD needed to prove a point to customers who ignore their bills.

"You need to develop the reputation that if they don't pay, their water is turned off," Rader advised.

With the green light from PSD members, the men said they would start shutting customers off the next morning.

They also discussed a temporary problem with a pressure regulator that caused some customers' water pressure to spike suddenly.

The PSD agreed to a request from one customer that they give her credit on her water bill of almost $150 to pay for replacing a water heater.

Fluharty said most customers were understanding of the problem, including one who was on the toilet when the water pressure suddenly shot up.

"He got a bath," Fluharty said.

The PSD approved drawdowns of funds from the water line extension project under construction, which engineer Jim Hildreth said was 11 percent complete.

Approved were payments of $227,742.70 to contractor Bruce Allen Inc., $16,109.50 to engineers, Boyles & Hildreth, and $5,398.20 to project attorney Tom Whittier.

The PSD also approved another drawdown to Bruce Allen, for over $350,000, after earlier questions were answered regarding the pipe that was being installed.

Collins also reported that the sewer system was losing between $2,000 and $3,000 a month.

The PSD is pursuing funding for upgrades to the sewer system, but for the second consecutive month no representative of the engineering firm preparing the proposal, Dunn Engineering, attended the meeting. That was after the company president assured members at the last meeting he attended he would be at every meeting.

In other business, Collins said the W.Va. PSC would make a report to the Calhoun County Commission Oct. 25 regarding an investigation of the Mt. Zion PSD requested by the commission and PSD members.

PSD members agreed to move their next monthly meeting, usually the second Monday of each month, to Monday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Arnoldsburg Community Building.


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