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Kanawha Public Service District Customers Could See Drop In Sewer Rates

Reported: Apr. 25, 2014 2:13 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 25, 2014 6:26 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON W.Va. (Fallon Pierson) -- There is some good news for customers of the Kanawha Public Service District. They could see a decrease in their sewer rates come July.

The Public Service Commission heard a request for a rate increase from the Kanawha PSD on Friday.

All parties have agreed to a lower request of 7.34 percent, down from the public service district's initial request of 25 percent. Susan Small, spokeswoman for the state Public Service Commission, said an administrative law judge must agree to the proposal by June 23. If approved, the 7.34 percent increase would remain in effect until either the Kanawha PSD satisfies some bond deficiencies or Feb 1, 2016, whichever comes first. There then would a 1.6 percent decrease in rates.

The Kanawha PSD is about $300,000 deficient in making bond payments.

The public service district has actually been operating under an 11.55 percent increase since December when the Public Service Commission granted the district an emergency rate increase.

David Howell, the chairman of the Kanawha PSD, blames the district's shortfalls on a former billing clerk he claims made hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of errors.

He also said that there has only been one other rate increase since 2009 and that it's time for another.

Community members who came to the hearing are having a hard time grasping why the PSD needs more funds.

Chelyan resident Blanch Taylor said she is not happy about the proposed rate changes.

"I don't like the idea that rates are going to go way up. A lot of people are paying more for their sewer than they are their water, and it's not my fault if they're not managing money the way they should," Taylor said.

Howell said the process is challenging.

"The time lag you have between proposing the rate increase and gas and insurance going up, is like two or three years," Howell said. "By the time you get the increase, your cost has gone up more than you originally projected."

The administrative law judge hearing this case will issue her recommendation by June 23, it then heads back to the commission to be approved after that step.



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