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Wood County Commission to mull Lubeck PSD rate hike

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Commission is expected to take action this morning on a proposed rate increase for the Lubeck Public Service District.

“Consider Lubeck Public Service District water and sewer rate increases” is on the commission’s agenda for 9:30 a.m. during the regular Thursday meeting which is being held in the Boreman meeting room at the Judge Black Annex, adjacent to the historic Wood County Courthouse.

The commission has met with PSD officials, sought guidance from the state Public Service Commission and held a public hearing earlier this week to hear from residents.

“People have a variety of concerns always when someone wants to raise rates,” Commission President Blair Couch said earlier this week. “The water/sewer rate goes across to everyone, low income individuals, seniors, families that are struggling and others.”

The Lubeck PSD is seeking a 7.25 percent rate increase for water and a 11.5 percent increase for sewer service. These amounts had been lowered from initially higher proposed rates after the commission asked the PSD to look at it again.

The additional funds are needed to meet state requirements, build reserves for repair and maintenance and address the final debt service on a 1996 bond issue, as well as to support general operations, PSD officials have said.

Lubeck PSD has around 4,400 water customers, Lubeck PSD officials said.

An average customer uses around 3,200 gallons of water a month which would put the current payment at $29.22, officials said adding with the new proposed increase, it would go to $31.35 which is an increase of $2.13 a month.

For sewer, a average 3,000 gallon bill is currently $50.30. With a rate increase, it would go to $56.10 which is an increase of $5.80 a month. A minimum bill for 2,000 gallons would go from $37.64 to $41.98 which is an increase of $4.34 a month.

For water and sewer it could increase the bill around $8.50 a customer, officials said.

Lubeck PSD Manager Rocky McConnell had said at the public meeting that the rate increase would mostly cover the cost of having a reserve fund in place to handle extraordinary expenses that would come up.

Initially, the district felt they had some time to build up the reserve fund, but state legislation passed in 2020 said they have to have that reserve fully funded annually. PSD officials said Monday night they have around a third of the fund in place in regards to water and under a quarter of the way on the fund in regards to sewer.

Residents who attended the public hearing were concerned that to keep this account fully funded they might be seeing rate increases every couple of years.

PSD officials did have a time frame on when the account would be fully funded which also led to concerns by the residents they might be seeing regular increases.

Some residents also saw their bills as being above the projected averages.

County officials are trying to find a balance for both sides.

Couch said each commissioner has received phone calls and messages from many residents on how they will be impacted.

“Times are tight,” Couch said. “For everyone, every dollar counts.”

Also on today’s agenda:

* Discuss and consider a FEMA Application with the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council

* Consider signing the National Disability Employment Awareness Month Proclamation

* Discuss abandoned and dilapidated property at Gihon Terrace Trailer Park with Sarah Robinson, Wood County Compliance Officer.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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