Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 14, 2013

Outside water customers pay for town’s mistakes

The following is the opinion of the individual and in no manner reflects the opinion of any other person or organization.

First off, I would like to once and for all correct a falsehood that has been bantered about for years.

The New Creek Water Association customers do not now, nor ever in recent memory, pay less for their water than the residents of the city of Keyser.

A quick comparison: 4,000 gallon monthly usage in New Creek costs $26.93 and only $24.78 in Keyser; 6,000 gallon usage is $39.33 in New Creek and only $36.32 in Keyser.

These figures can easily be checked as the rates are posted at the respective offices and are also available on the Public Service Commission website at “www.psc.state.wv.us/utilities/default.htm”.

Hopefully this will put the oft promoted and outright lie to rest.

The papers recently reported on the future water rate increases granted to the city of Keyser (“PSC approves rate hike for Keyser water customers,” May 7 Times-News, Page 1A).

I want to explain to all area residents, especially those served by the New Creek Water Association what has driven this huge and unfair rate increase for them.

Over the course of decades, the city of Keyser has been extremely negligent in properly maintaining and updating their water system and instituting small increases to city water rates over time to address these needs.

This situation could not continue indefinitely and has finally come to a head. Keyser must now rebuild, repair or replace a major portion of their system at a tremendous cost.

This situation was brought about entirely and solely by the city’s leadership. It is their fault and no one else’s. And someone has to pay for this neglect and resulting huge costs to correct.

Their solution was not to accept this responsibility and pay for their own self made mistakes and carelessness by themselves, they decided that others should have to pay also.

And those are the city’s resale water customers, New Creek Water Association and McCoole Water, whose only participation in was buying water from the city.

And to add insult to injury, the rate increases will be 41.99 percent for city customers and 44.45 percent for New Creek and McCoole.

This increase is going to result in New Creek water customers giving the city over $80,000 a year more and McCoole over $17,000 to the city of Keyser to help pay for its ignorance.

Yes, the Public Service Commission went along with this scam. However, it ignored a couple of facts, both financially and technically.

Keyser will have an extra $185,000 available a few years after the new rates become effective with the payoff of an existing loan.

If this soon to be available amount would have been calculated in the PSC’s cost study, a much lower rate increase would have been needed.

And the worst part is the majority of the repairs and replacement of the water lines are in parts of town far removed from where New Creek gets their supply from the city and has nothing to do with us in the least.

Referring back to the statement by the mayor in which he said he had kept rates as low as possible for the city residents; he should have added he was happy to be able to do that on the backs of others.

I guess that they will be asking us to help maintain their streets and sidewalks next.

Norman Launi Sr.

New Creek

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