WILLIAMSON – In a procedural order submitted by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the decision was made to consider both the water and sewer rates and toll the suspension period for 60 days.
Referencing a protest Shawn Williamson filed as a response to the Recommended Decision by the PSC to exclude the sewer portion of the petition the order states, “On Oct. 9, 2015 Shawn Williamson filed in protest to the Recommended Decision. Mr. Williamson stated that the hurried rate process used by Williamson in a rush by petitioners, but the cover letter sent with the 921 signatures refers to one petition signed by the Williamson Water and Sewer customers.
The commission complaint process encourages filings by individuals and it would be grossly unjust if a mere wording error by an unsophisticated community group were used to deny due process rights to a fair hearing. Both versions of the petitions refer to water and sewer and refer to customers of both Williamson Water and Sewer. It is ludicrous to think customers would protest one rate and not the other. The Mayor of Williamson, the Town Council and the Utilities Board agree that the citizens of Williamson be given full participation in the rate review process.”
The order also lists efforts made by the Williamson Utility Board Attorney, Robert Rodecker as reasoning behind the decision. The order states, “On Oct. 7, 2015, Williamson filed a response to the Staff motion to toll. Williamson stated that it was unaware of any statutory requirement that it file the information referenced by Staff (PSC) motion. Williamson and Staff (PSC) had thus far been unable to agree on the scope of information to be filed or the time frame for filing. Williamson is considering filing exceptions to the Recommended Decision. Williamson is undergoing leadership changes and understands the importance of cooperation with Staff (PSC) and suggests that it and Staff (PSC) should agree to use 2015 as the test year to have the most recent information become a part of the analysis. Williamson asked that the Commission (PSC) enter an order similar to that in the City of Wheeling regarding what is to be filed by Williamson in support of its case and a reasonable suspension period, if the Recommended Decision is not adopted by the Commission (PSC).”
Discussion on the Procedural Order states, “As acknowledged by all parties, the signature petition filed in these cases contained inadvertent language that when read literally and narrowly formed a sufficient basis to conclude that the sewer municipal appeal should be dismissed. However, taken as a whole, it is clear that those customers signing the signature petitions sought to protest both the water and the sewer increase. We will grant the Williamson exceptions to the Recommended Decision and allow the sewer municipal appeal to proceed”.
The order also states that, “the running of the statutory suspension period is tolled for a period of sixty days. The new statutory deadline is March 29, 2016.”
“It is further ordered that the Sept. 16, 2015 Procedural Order is vacated and the Dec. 3 2015, hearing set by that order is cancelled,” the order continues.
Related to the ongoing PSC investigation is a City of Williamson’s Response in Opposition to Staff Motion to Compel submitted by Rodecker on Oct. 26 that states, “The City continues to desire to cooperate with the Staff (PSC) but respectfully submits that the Staff (PSC) request would require the City to undertake costly and time consuming work to perform a bill analysis. It is also respectfully submitted that a 2015 test year would be more representative of the City’s current financial situation.”
The PSC Attorney, Linda Bouvette responded to Rodecker’s submission stating, “The information and data necessary to prepare a bill analysis is in the possession of the City. Staff (PSC) needs the information in the bill analysis to prepare a class cost of service study from which it can make a recommendation as to whether the City’s rates are just, reasonable, and non-discriminatory. The City should be required to prepare the bill analysis based on the 2014 test year. Staff respectfully requests that an order be entered compelling the City of Williamson to prepare and file with the Commission (PSC) a bill analysis based on the 2014 test year no later than Nov. 6, 2015.
The next Williamson Utility Board meeting will take place Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)