The first reading of an ordinance held by the Delbarton Town Council during its meeting Monday evening will prevent the town’s residents from facing increased water charges.

The Mingo County Public Service District began the process of obtaining approval from the West Virginia Public Service Commission last summer to raise both its water and sewer rates. That approval has been granted. 

This increase will include commercial use customers as well. One of these includes the town of Delbarton which does not have its own water plant and purchases water for its residents through the PSD. 

Since that time, the Delbarton Town Council has said it is in a financial condition that prevents the town from absorbing the increased costs. Mayor John Preece led the council in protesting the rate increase stating that the increase would have to be passed on to the town’s water customers.

He cited the fact that more than 30 percent of the town’s population lives at or below the poverty level.

A final solution was undertaken by the council this week to prevent increasing rates. The town allows the PSD to transport water through the municipal waterlines for PSD customers living outside the town. The PSD pays what is called a transportation tariff for this service. 

During the last council meeting, Preece discussed the possibility of raising that fee to cover the cost of the increase. He said after speaking to the PSC, he discovered the only requirement to raise the tariff would be a new ordinance by the town setting the rate. PSC hearings would not be necessary.

“If we raise the tariff enough to cover the costs, we won’t have to raise our water rates,” Preece said. “It will be a wash.”

The ordinance presented Monday calls for the transportation fee to be raised by five cents per gallon.

“This will yield enough to cover the increase from the PSD,” Preece said. “It will be negligible to them and it will be a break for our customers here in town.”

The second reading will be held at the council’s next meeting. The council will convene at 4:30 (prior to its regular 5 p.m. starting time) to allow public comment on the matter. That meeting will be Feb. 11.

The council also discussed the pending town election in June. The filing period for anyone interested in running for office ended on Saturday, Jan. 26. Only one person filed for election other than the current council members. 

Those filing for office include: John Preece for mayor; Becky Foutch for the position of recorder; and running for the five council seats are Joe Crum, Glenn Dale Canada, Robert Hunt, Ralph Maynard, Mark Sizemore and Albert Totten.

The council voted to allow Preece to select election commissioners in order to meet an immediate deadline. The council will approve those candidates at the next meeting or offer suggestions for replacements if they are unhappy with the mayor’s recommendation.

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