Town ordered to increase water rates
The West Virginia Public Service Commission struck down the Town of
Bath's proposed flat rate structure for water rates and imposed its own rate schedule on the town.
In a ruling by Administrative Law Judge John P. Carter on Monday, September 22, the PSC disapproved the flat rate ordinance adopted by Bath Council on May 6.
In its place, the PSC ordered the town to adopt rates and charges recommended by PSC staff to take effect on October 18.
The new rates will increase the water bill for most residential customers, those using 6,000 gallons or less per quarter, from the current $55.80 to $80.70.
In addition, the town was ordered to establish and maintain a separate escrow account of $140,000 per year for replacement of water lines, performance of a water audit and enhancement of the town's leak detection program.
It was further ordered that the town correct its billing software to eliminate the overcharges for customers with water meters larger than 5/8 inch and refund or credit those overbillings to the affected customers over a five year period.
The PSC had determined in a report issued on August 25 that 49 large water customers had been overbilled approximately $161,000 since 2005 when the town changed its billing software.
The water moratorium which has been in effect since 2005 was extended for one year and will be reevaluated by the PSC on a yearly basis.
Although town residents, Mayor Susan Webster, town council members and town attorney Richard Gay had argued against some or all of the recommendations at a hearing on September 2, Judge Carter concluded that PSC staff recommendations would stand.
The Bath Town Council has set a special meeting for Friday, September 26, at 10 a.m. to discuss the water rate order.