The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 7, 2013

Fayetteville intends to fight rate increase

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

FAYETTEVILLE — The Town of Fayetteville plans to intervene in a rate increase case pending before the West Virginia Public Service Commission that would significantly raise the sewer bills of West Virginia American Water customers in town.

In December, the water company requested an 81 percent sewer rate increase for Fayetteville customers but has since amended the request to a 63 percent increase.

Town officials met with the water company in late December but the town’s attorney, Larry Harrah, says “not much was accomplished” at the sit-down.

“We made it clear that we are not pleased with their proposal,” he said.

“Ultimately they will probably be successful in getting some rate increase, but 63 percent — we certainly don’t believe that’s fair.”

The Town of Fayetteville sold its water and sewer utilities to West Virginia American Water (WVAW) for $3.9 million in 2008, after 86 percent of residents voted to approve the agreement.

The sales contract stated that WVAW would not raise sewer rates for two years and that the company would invest up to $1.5 million in the system.

WVAW says it invested $682,000 into the system between 2008 and 2011, some of which went toward bringing the sewer system into compliance with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Harrah and a legal team from Steptoe and Johnson are reviewing the sales agreement and exploring legal options.

The Fayetteville Town Council discussed the matter at its Thursday meeting.

Other business taken up by council included the following:

— The town increased the membership of its Historical Review Board from 5 to 7 members.

— Council approved the purchase of a snow plow for $4,795.

— The town’s payroll clerk will receive a $1 pay increase from $9 to $10 per hour.

— Council approved a request by Mark Hurley to remove dirt from the town’s property next to Lowe’s, to be used for fill.

— Donald Beals and Catherine Saunders were appointed to the Planning and Zoning Board.

On the visitor’s agenda, Fayetteville resident Mary Rahall expressed strong concern about a wastewater injection well located near Oak Hill on Lochgelly Road.

Rahall warned her neighbors about the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which she calls a “catastrophic health issue.”

“I’m really hoping you can do something to prevent fracking in this community and this neighborhood. (...) There must be something we can do to stop these gas companies from other areas dumping their toxic waste basically in our back yard,” she said.

Town Superintendent Bill Lanham responded that such a desire to prevent fracking in town would be “a perfect thing” to raise at a comprehensive plan meeting. The town is currently creating a comprehensive plan, which sets goals and objectives for land use.

The next public meeting for the comprehensive plan is Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

Mayor Jim Akers suggested Rahall talk to the Fayette County Commission, since the injection well is outside city limits.

Rahall was also invited to attend the town’s zoning commission meetings.

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