Cumberland Times-News

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March 24, 2013

Resident protests split of Keyser water rate hike

KEYSER, W.Va. — Resident Gerald Ickes has filed a letter with the West Virginia Public Service Commission objecting to how the water rate increases were split between Keyser residents and resale customers in New Creek and McCoole.

“The allocation of water rate increases between Keyser customers and resale customers (New Creek and McCoole) is extremely inequitable to Keyser customers,” wrote Ickes in his letter to Sandra Squire.

Ickes’ usage per month was 4,600 gallons in 2011, according to his letter. With the rate increase, his bill will go up $11.88 per month and a resale customer’s water bill would go up $4.77 per month for the same usage.

A Keyser customer’s water bill will go from $27.22 (without 2 percent utility tax) to $39.10 per month, according to Ickes’ calculations. A resale customer’s bill (from Keyser) would go from $10.32 per month to $15.09 per month.

Phase I and Phase II of the water project have been combined as far as rates and filings are concerned, Ickes said.

Phase I will include a new storage tank, new lines to the storage tank, repair of the existing tank that is leaking,  an upgrade to the pump station on the Waxler Road storage tank to better utilize the tank and replace approximately five miles of water lines in the city. Phase I will be about $4.2 million with about $2.6 million for water line replacement.

“One of the primary reasons to do Phase One work is to get the water rates high enough to enable a $3.1 million grant to be obtained for the refurbishing the water treatment plant,” wrote Ickes. “An argument can be made that resale customers are getting a benefit from Phase One work, because otherwise the plant rebuild would cost $3.1 million more that should be shared by resale customers.

Last summer, Ickes and resident Karol Ashenfelter gathered signatures in protest against the water and sewer rate increases. 

A hearing on the water and sewer rate increase has been scheduled for April 9 at 2 p.m. in the Keyser city council chambers located at 111 N. Davis St.

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