Bath adopts policy for new water taps
The Town of Bath Council approved a policy outlining how it will administer requests for new water taps from the Berkeley Springs Water Works at the Tuesday morning, May 17 meeting.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) partially lifted the moratorium on new water taps on March 10. The moratorium has been in place since August 2005.
Since then, the completion of two water line replacement projects has significantly reduced the amount of water lost due to leakage. The PSC order partially lifting the moratorium allows the equivalent of 100 new residential water taps to be installed.
The town has maintained a list of requests for new water taps since the moratorium started. Questions were raised to council about just what constitutes an equivalent residential water tap and how the town will handle requests.
The policy states in part that new water service will be offered on a “first come, first serve basis, based on the priorities of the names on the list of persons or entities who have requested water service starting with number 1.”
The policy defines the water service for each residential tap as being the use of 4,500 gallons per month or 13,500 per quarter. This is the equivalent of one water tap.
A customer may request a water tap based on projected water usage and have the Water Works install a meter. The customer will pay the minimum monthly charge for the service until they begin using the service. The service must be utilized within one year.
In the case of new construction, a customer may request service but must start construction within 90 days. Once construction starts a new water meter will be installed and the customer will pay the minimum charge for service until utilized.
For commercial customers that require more than one tap based on the defined 4,500 gallons monthly and 13,500 gallons quarterly, the number of taps needed will reduce the total number of available taps for succeeding customers.
Once the 100 available taps are exhausted, the moratorium will go back into effect, according to the PSC order.
The new policy was written by town’s attorney Richard Gay and approved by the PSC. Copies of the policy are available at the Municipal Center.
Uncollectable water bills
Town Clerk Margie Allgyer reported 47 customers, mostly renters, skipped out without paying their water bill last quarter. That amounts to over $4,600 in lost revenue.
Allgyer said the bills are almost impossible to collect because the people who skip out seldom leave forwarding addresses. She said the town budgets for a five percent loss due to water customers who move without paying their last bill.
Chief Water Operator Terry Largent said 15,000 feet of two inch or smaller pipe needs to be replaced on 26 different streets. Largent said the Water Works would buy the materials and hire a contractor to do the work.
The money will come from the special budget ordered set aside by the PSC for local repairs.
Largent said 5,000 feet of six inch pipe, mostly under Washington and Fairfax streets needs replacement and a meeting has been scheduled with Thrasher Engineering to discuss another water project.
Hotel-Motel tax collection
Allgyer reported $13,291.39 of the $30,000 projected in last year’s budget has been collected for the first three quarters of this fiscal year.
The budget shortfall is due to the Country Inn’s failure to pay any hotel-motel taxes and the town is pursuing legal action against the Inn.
Monies collected so far have been distributed to Travel Berkeley Springs and other organizations that put in requests for hotel-motel funds.
Grant requests signed
Mayor Susan Webster reported to the council she had signed two grant requests that are not for the town, but require the signature of the municipality.
One grant request signed was for $25,000 from the High Mark Foundation Cities and Towns Community Partnership applied for by the Morgan County Commission to help remediate the problems at the new soccer field.
Another grant request the mayor signed was for the Ice House to continue interior work.
Meter revenue up
Police Chief Craig Pearrell reported that meter revenue was up 35 percent.
Police Administrator Gene Kilduff said the increase in revenue was due to several factors including the installation of new electronic meters, additional parking meters that have been installed and more hours of parking enforcement.
Pearrell said he has started a new “Fight Cancer” T-shirt campaign with money confiscated during drug busts to benefit cancer survivors in need. T-shirts are available at the police station in all sizes including youth sizes.
A photo of the T-shirt ran in last week’s edition.