By CHAD ABSHIRE
MATEWAN - The Matewan Town Council met Tuesday, discussing a variety of topics, with the hardest hitting subjects being the town’s payments to Veolia Water and the Thacker water project.
Mayor Sheila Kessler told the council that she recently had a meeting with Veolia officials, where they reportedly reached an agreement to stay at a 2.5 percent increase instead of 3.559 percent increase, which adds $5,000 to the town’s monthly payment of $3,667.
The town had been behind on paying Veloia.
“If we deviate from this or get behind, it will revert to 3.559 percent,” Kessler said.
She said that a rate increase was set to take place in June, but now will not. The town’s monthly bill is currently a total of $8,667, and will stay at that price until June.
However, despite a rate increase not happening, beginning in July this year and lasting until June 2013, the $5,000 on top of the monthly payment will increase to $8,000. By that time, the $3,667 note payment will be paid off.
That $3,000 monthly increase is built into the town’s rate.
However, Kessler asked the council to consider the idea of adding the payment of $3,667 to that $8,000 payment, to begin paying the next note. She said that if the council didn’t agree to that, the new note would not be paid off until after July 2015.
A motion was passed to not add the amount, with Kessler adding that the council “will cross that bridge in June 2013.”
Councilman David Smith suggested that the town keep the money, not pay Veolia and purchase everything the town’s water and sewer departments needed.
“We can show them how to play hardball,” Smith said. “We’ll show them how West Virginians do business.”
The councilman’s suggestion was not meant to be taken seriously, though Kessler said she would have liked to been able to do that.
“I know it’s not hardball,” Smith said. “It’s business.”
No motion was made on his faux-suggestion.
“The town will not increase payment to $11,667,” Kessler said, ending the discussion.
Regarding the ongoing Thacker water project, Pat Rawlings, senior designer with Triad Engineering Inc., told the council that they were getting closer to being ready to submit the project to the Public Service Commission.
He said that they needed 80 percent of the user agreements signed to send to the PSC. Currently 48 have been paid and signed and 35 have been signed, but not paid.
However, he also said that they needed 100 percent of the easements, which has not been met.
Currently, Rawlings said, the main thing holding the project back is the lack of user agreements.
“We have to get them done,” Kessler said. “If you have to shut down the water office to drive up there, do it.”
Rawlings said that 98 user agreements is “the number to shoot for.” He also said that they need 77 easements, and currently have 62 “in hand.” There are also a total of five condemnations, with a possibility for an additional three.
The attorney for the project, Stacey Kohari, was present at the meeting, and presented a bill to the town for her work done thus far: $22,883. When Kessler asked her how long she had been with the project, Kohari said May 2011.
“This seems like a reasonable price to me,” Kessler said.
That price may increase though, as the aforementioned possible condemnations would have to be handled by Kohari if they were to come to pass.
The Matewan Town Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at Matewan Town Hall. Meetings are open to the public.