MAN, W.Va. — The Mayor of the town of Man recieved the go ahead to meet with the Buffalo Creek Public Service District to discuss the possibility of having BCPSD provide the town’s water service.
The move was approved during the monthly meeting on March 13. It came after Councilman John Fekete read through a cost analysis of what the proposed $7 million dollar water project the town has discussed for the past several months could wind up costing the residents.
Previously Jesse Alden of Thrasher engineering. had discussed a three phase project which would see the system mapped, with any down spouts that are directing rainwater into the Buffalo Creek PSD’s sewage collection meters removed and to repair and replace the crumbling old terra cotta water lines around the town.
Town Accountant Jeff Valet noted that because Man has low water rates it has been routinely knocked out of any grants to provide needed repairs or upgrades to the water service.
One alternative to the extensive and expensive project would be to have the town shut down it’s own water plant and become a retail customer of either the Buffalo Creek PSD or the Logan County PSD. Many members of the council were reticent to do this as Man’s rates were affordable compared to many other town’s rates.
Councilman Fekete noted that current sewage rates for the town of Man average $33.98 per customer monthly with Buffalo Creek PSD’s average rate for the same amount (4,500 gallons) at $34.21. Fekete noted that Man’s rate is .23 cents cheaper than BCPSD and $18.36 cheaper than Logan County PSD.
For water rates the town of Man charges $42.35 per 4,500 gallons. BCPDS charges $34.74, with Logan County PSD charging $42.38. Water in Man is $7.57 more than BCPSD and .7 cents cheaper than LCPSD, Fekete said, noting that the average combined water and sewage bills for 4,500 gallons per month are $76.29 for the town of Man; 68.95 for the BCPSD and $94.72 for LCPSD, making Man $7.34 more than BCPSD and $18.43 less than LCPSD.
“The total projected cost for this project is $7 million dollars financed at 3 percent interest over 40 years,” Fekete said, adding that when that amount is divided by 388 customers it worked out to an increase of $64.00 per customer. Fekete said he felt many people just could not afford so drastic a rate increase. “If we borrow $7 million our minimum bill would be $98 dollars per month,” he said.
“Whatever your bill is now, add $64.00 to it,” he explained, pointing out that if a customer used 4,500 gallons a month that they would have a combined $140.31 water and sewage bill. A current sewage bill of $32.92 per month would increase to $96.92.
“I want the council to give (Mayor) Jim (Blevins) permission to meet with Buffalo Creek PSD to open up discussions with them and see what sort of proposal they can come up with,” Fekete said.
Fekete provided a handout to people who were present at the meeting with the comparison figures.
“Our system is so old,” said Councilman Roger Muncy. “The town may not have any other choice.”
Muncy asked Town Accountant Jeff Valet about raw numbers for the proposed project from Thrasher Engineering. Valet explained that with the current situation the town had very little realistic chance of getting any grants to offset the cost of the water and sewage upgrades but noted that if the first phase of the project went forward that might change.
“I am really confidant that if we move forward we could get some grant money,” Valet said.
Mayor Blevins said the town was running out of time to solve its problem of rainwater getting into the BPSD’s sewage collection meters.
“We got another $13,000 sewer bill this month,” Blevins said. “We are getting deeper and deeper in the hole on this.”
Valet said he did not oppose going to Buffalo Creek PSD for water services but noted the town still would have to do something about its long term water and sewage infiltration problems. Valet said he would like to see all possibilities examined and noted that considering how little rain the town had last month (two days) he suspected that some of that amount in the BCPSD’s collection meters was actually river water from where the river was up and not all of it actually coming from people’s downspouts.
“I don’t want to see the town put all of its eggs in one basket,” he added.
Longtime council member Mavis Toler asked if the town had raised its rates would it have helped Man in getting state or federal money for needed repairs.
“Hindsight is 20-20,” Mayor Blevins said. “It’s too late to worry about that now.”
Jesse Alden said that final preliminary engineering reports on the proposed project had been uploaded to the infrastructure council’s web site on Friday.
J.D. Charles is a freelance writer for Civitas Media and a retired reporter for The Logan Banner. He can be reached by calling 304-752-6950.