Cumberland Times-News

Local News

January 21, 2013

Decision on Keyser sewer rate increase put on hold

KEYSER, W.Va. — A decision on the final rate increase for Keyser sewer customers won’t be made until May 10. The West Virginia Public Service Commission has granted the city’s request to further toll the suspension period for the increase in the sewer rates and to extend the administrative law judge’s decision until May, according to a PSC filing.

The PSC also granted the city’s request to consolidate two cases — one for the sewer rate increase and one for the city’s application for a certificate of convenience and necessity for the construction of the Chestnut Street sewer replacement project.

“The city asserts that the most efficient use of the commission’s and commission staff’s time and resources, along with those of the city and the intervenors, will occur with further tolling of the suspension period in the municipal appeal case to allow for a procedural schedule that coincides with the procedural schedule in the certificate application case, and to consolidate the cases,” states the PSC filing.  

The city indicated that it would file for the application for the proposed Chestnut Street project in November, but due to unforseen circumstances the city didn’t file until December, approximately 30 days later than originally intended, according to the PSC filing.

 The certificate looks at the costs of construction, who benefits from the project, how it’s paid for and basically asks the PSC for permission to construct the project, Susan Small, PSC communications director, explained to the Times-News in a previous interview.

The proposed project will consist of the installation of new storm sewers and the replacement of vitrified clay sanitary sewers in the Hawthorne Heights area, according to a PSC document. Storm water is currently collected in shallow ditches or runs on the pavement; the existing sanitary sewer lines are cracked and have no manholes or cleanouts. The project will be constructed along Chestnut Street, Hawthorne Road, Hilltop Avenue, Sunset Place, Valley View Avenue and two alleys in the city.

The city estimates that the proposed project will cost $2.64 million and be funded fully by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan, with an approximate 2.5 percent interest rate, for a term not to exceed 40 years, according to a PSC document.  

In May, the city adopted an ordinance that proposed a three-step increase in sewer rates: the first step will cover going-level expenses and the second step will cover debt and operation and maintenance expenses related to the proposed Chestnut Street project.

The third step will cover debt, operation and maintenance expenses related to the proposed wastewater treatment plant upgrade project, which is necessary to meet the Chesapeake Bay restoration mandates.

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