Sewer system to bill owners of vacant buildings
The Warm Springs Public Service District board of directors unanimously passed a billing policy requiring owners of houses, dwellings or buildings connected to the sewer system to pay at least the minimum or fixed rate sewer fee.
The policy applies to all structures connected to the sewer system regardless of occupancy.
The owner of a vacant structure will be billed until a tenant has applied for sewer service or the structure is declared uninhabitable by a qualified agency.
The policy takes effect July 1.
If the sewer customer is on a metered water system, the bill will be based on a minimum 3,000 gallons per month and will cost $39.54 or more if usage is higher, once the recently approved rate increase by the PSC goes into effect in July.
A sewer customer with a well on a non-metered system is charged a flat rate based on 4,500 gallons per month and will be billed $58.05 after the rate increase.
Asked if it mattered whether the owner of a vacant structure had their metered water cut off by the water department, District Manager Rodney Hovermale said, “No, the bill is for having the sewer service, not for usage.”
Sewer board members voted to adopt the billing policy at the Wednesday, June 13 meeting.
Asked if this was a new policy, board member Mike Jenkins said, “We didn’t have one before.”
Back pay denied
Board President Paul Zorich formally requested back payment for his service on the board since 2008. The amount requested was $4,425.
At the March 14 meeting, board members voted unanimously to pay themselves $100 per meeting. State Code allows board members to be paid up to $100 per session.
Zorich argued there was nothing in the rule prohibiting a board member from receiving back pay.
The two newer members of the board, Jenkins and Joyce Altomare, voted to deny the request for back pay.
Plant Operator and newly appointed Safety Officer Terry Cross presented a safety policy to the board and asked that it be adopted.
The policy included an employee incentive clause giving all employees a personal day off if no incidents resulting in lost time were reported in a 180-day period.
Board members voted unanimously to adopt the policy after striking out the incentive clause.
“One, I have some reservations that it could cause employees not to report injuries and accidents and two, I would like to run that through the auditors to make sure it was okay,” Jenkins said about striking the incentive paragraph.
He said the incentive could be added later if auditors approved.
Cross asked for a safety budget of $2,500 for equipment and training and a line item for safety be put into next year’s budget.
Altomare supported his request, saying: “For the number of years the two employees at the plant have never had adequate safety equipment, it is time to spend the money.”
Altomare moved the board accept the safety committee’s request for the money and a line item.
The other two board members felt a line item in the budget wasn’t needed and the safety committee should take equipment and training requests directly to Hovermale.
The motion died for lack of a second.
The board denied a request by a homeowner on Harrison Avenue for reimbursement of $116.13 paid to a plumber to replace a sewer line clogged with roots.
“When it comes down to it, people shouldn’t be working on the line without us knowing about it,” Jenkins said.
The board passed a travel policy and approved a travel expense form.
The board decided not to send any employees to the West Virginia Rural Water Association Conference this year.
The board tabled a discussion about separating the duties of the secretary and treasurer, now performed by Hovermale, until the next regular board meeting.
Altomare said she wanted to take over the secretarial duties. Hovermale replied he has been taking minutes at board meetings for 30 years.
The board set a special meeting for Saturday, June 23 to finalize the budget and tabled a discussion until that meeting of what to do with $21,000 received from the sale of a piece of no longer needed equipment called a belt press.