BUCKHANNON — A main topic of discussion during last Thursday’s City Council meeting was the ongoing dispute with Upshur County Commission’s proceedings to reassign utility territory on Route 33 West to Tennerton PSD.
Mayor David McCauley stated, “About two years ago, our city officials were contacted about a proposed development on the south side of Route 33 West out near the J.F. Allen property. J.F. Allen was proposing a huge development with scores of buildings, and of course they required utilities.” The city had already been devising plans for their approach on how to finance the project and what the construction would entail. McCauley mentioned there were two proposals – annexation, like that of Lowe’s, or financially partnering with businesses for contributions to the project, like that of the Brushy Fork Road.
The city had also proposed another payment plan that would include a surcharge for new customers. However, after much discussion and a number of meetings, the County Commission finally voted to begin the process of assigning the area to Tennerton PSD. The Mayor stated, “These actions could very well involve both litigation involving local entities and administrative action before the West Virginia Public Service Commission.” After many long debates and heavy assessment, McCauley recognized multiple problems to include that Hodgesville and Tennerton PSDs continue to be delinquent with payments, even though the city pardoned tens of thousands of dollars in interest and late fees when told that the PSDs might declare bankruptcy otherwise.
McCauley also revealed that in order to continue the Tennerton PSD proposal, there would be a call for a significant rate increase for all 891 PSD customers, contrary to the city’s proposal that would not require rates to be changed. McCauley explained, “Both PSDs currently have substantial financial and performance challenges. The city for years has been vigilant in insisting that influx and infiltration issues needed to be addressed in the Tennerton’s decades-old system.” The Mayor also asserted, “The Hodgesville PSD experienced immense water loss in a decrepit system, where for every gallon of water delivered, a half-gallon ends up leaking into the ground.”
McCauley delivered a striking and resounding statement to the Council and meeting attendees. The Council was in full support of the Mayor’s statement and his request to stand behind the utility boards in any upcoming actions they may take to “protect and preserve” their utility territory. “After reading this along with you, I think it’s excellent, and if it’s a motion you’re looking for to bring this into fruition, I’ll be happy to do it,” Councilor Robbie Skinner confirmed. “Excellent narrative, David,” councilman David Thomas expressed to McCauley. “It really puts out the information that’s needed by our communal. I support you 100 percent.”
In conclusion, the City Council unanimously approved a motion in support of the City’s utility boards, while taking expected actions protecting their respective utility territory rights along Route 33 West and confronting the decision made by the County Commission.