Lubeck PSD explains proposed rate hikes

8.25% for water, 11.5% for sewer
Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 4:40 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - Accountants, board members and managers fo the Lubeck Public Service district discussed with the Wood County Commission Monday plans for separate water and sewer rate hikes.

The proposed increases, which the commission has to improve: 8.25% for water and 11.5% for sewer service.

The district’s goal: set up accounts to help with building and repair costs for equipment and water wells, plus a reserve account for pump replacement and cleaning.

“We have a repair and replacement account that we put money to the side in,” the district’s accountant, Zack Dobbins, explained regarding the sewer rate hike. “The biggest problem we run into is that, a lot of times, we have to eat into that when we’re putting in line extensions.”

Dobbins added part of the water rate hike is to set up an account for cleaning and repair of water wells.

“If these wells go down, the customers of Lubeck are without water. That’s one of our major issues, and we’re trying to keep everyone with potable water.”

A bill passed a few years ago by the West Virginia Legislature requires public service districts to set aside one-eighth of their incoming money for emergencies-a sort of “rainy day” account for PSD’s.

“The Senate Bill 234 account will be able to help the utility be able to maintain service if something extraordinary occurs,” said David Acord, Director, Water and Wastewater Division, West Virginia Public Service Commission, who attended Monday’s meeting. “They will be able to draw down those funds versus coming to the county commission or another entity for a grant.”

But Commission President Blair Couch recently noted money, more often than not, had not been placed in the reserve fund.

“So that means your inherent monthly expenses are outstripping your revenue to the point that you can’t fund the 1/8th. So now we want to open new accounts-I get that-but I think the cure is fixing the 1/8th.”

Also an issue: why the commission had not received details beyond a page and a half proposal. PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane questioned that at an August 3 appearance before the county commission.

“It’s just bothersome to me to hear that, today, August 24th, we just decided we’re going to put in different things to save money for our repairs,” Commissioner Jimmy Colombo noted Monday.

PSD board members told the commission detailed information had been sent to them. County officials said Monday it never reached their offices.

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