Cumberland Times-News

Local News

October 7, 2013

Romney, Central Hampshire PSD at odds over rates

ROMNEY, W.Va. — Two officials from the city of Romney, two from Central Hampshire Public Service District and two from the state Public Service Commission were sworn in for a rate and certification hearing held Friday in Charleston.

The Public Service Commission staff recommended $3.93 as a current rate and $7.02 for 1,000 gallons as a post project rate.

After a year of dispute and nearly a daylong hearing before the three-member Public Service Commission in Charleston, Central Hampshire again disagreed and the city of Romney agreed.

Witnesses included Romney Mayor Dan Hileman and administrator Eileen Johnson; Jim Hoffman, general manager of Central Hampshire, and two board members; and two members of the PSC staff.

Cathe Moreland is Romney’s attorney.

“Two matters were heard before the commission. One was the complaint case — the disagreement with CHPSD regarding current rates — and the second was the certificate case, which is a requirement for the new sewer plant,” Moreland said.

Moreland said Central Hampshire is protesting both matters.

The issue of the rate disagreement surfaced nearly a year ago when Romney posted new rates.

Central Hampshire’s rate increased from 48 cents per thousand gallons for sewage treatment services to $10.80 per thousand gallons, an increase of 2,227 percent.

“The judge encouraged us to settle before the PSC renders its decision. He told us to keep the door open for negotiations,” Hoffman said.

The procedure will continue with a transcript from the hearing due to both parties by Oct. 18, Susan Small, PSC spokeswoman, said.

“Initial briefs are due Nov. 7 and reply briefs due Nov. 18. I think the commission will likely get an order out in both cases by the statutory deadline, which is Dec. 19,” Small said.

One of the matters upsetting Central Hampshire is the inflow and infiltration going in to the city treatment plant is not part of the district’s system.

William Rohrbaugh, a Martinsburg attorney for Central Hampshire, said previously that Romney bills 59 million gallons and treats 141 million gallons a year.

Rohrbaugh claimed the city was draining surface water through the sanitary sewer system.

The city disagrees with Rohrbaugh’s claim, saying its storm water system is totally separate from the sanitary system.

The PSC has a traditional calculation on determining inflow and infiltration.

All indications point to Central Hampshire wanting the PSC to adopt a new formula.

Rohrbaugh could not be reached for comment.

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