Berkeley seeks reversal of utilities ruling

August 15, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission Thursday approved $5,000 in funding to try and have the West Virginia Public Service Commission reconsider a decision favoring Martinsburg over the county in a utilities dispute.

The commission members voted to give $3,000 to the Opequon Service District and $2,000 to the Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District to show moral and financial support in the dispute over who will supply the Martin's Landing area with water and sewer service.

The city annexed the 13-acre tract in 1990 in a minor boundary adjustment, according to City Manager Mark Baldwin. He said the developer of the land requested the city provide sewer and water service.


The Opequon Public Service District and the Berkeley County Public Service Sewer District objected, believing that the area was within their service territory. Baldwin said a Public Service Commission administrative law judge ruled in favor of the city.

The service districts again petitioned the Public Service Commission, which last month reaffirmed the administrative law judge's ruling.

"At this point the public service districts have filed briefs petitioning the PSC for re-hearings or oral arguments," Baldwin said.

The grants by the county, from its contract services fund, is not specifically designated for legal expenses, according to County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm. She said the commission is supportive of the public service districts because "the PSC ruling has long-term ramifications" for Berkeley and other counties.

That's because the public service districts are appointed by the commissions, which also define their territories.

Bruce Dorsey, the chairman of the board of the Opequon Service District, said the district already had water lines extending almost to Martin's Landing when the developer requested service from the city, which has lower rates.

Dorsey said the city was anxious for new customers because it needs the money to upgrade its water system.

Baldwin said the city is confident the PSC will uphold its July 25 ruling.

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