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Bath Town Council OKs flat water rate for Berkeley Springs

May 07, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A flat water rate was unanimously approved by the Bath Town Council after a public hearing Tuesday night.

The flat rate of $8.77 per 1,000 gallons will give the Berkeley Springs Water Works, the town-owned water department, a 13.3 percent revenue increase.

The increase will be used to pay the debt service on the upcoming $4.5 million loan to upgrade the water system and replace antiquated water lines, Bath Mayor Susan J. Webster said.

Webster said the town hopes the rate will bring about "fairness to the constituents and businesses, conservation because of the limited source, and to raise revenue for the upcoming pipe replacement project."

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"We still have a 56 percent water loss" after the yearlong pipe replacement project that was completed last year, Webster said.

Councilman David Crosby, who chairs the Finance Committee, said the majority of customers who use 9,000 to 10,000 gallons of water a quarter will see a slight increase, but those who use a lot of water will see a substantial increase in their water bills.

Kin Sayre, attorney for U.S. Silica Co., and Laura Smith, president of the Morgan County Board of Education, two large water users, spoke out against the flat rate.

Sayre said U.S. Silica's bill will go from $30,000 to $120,000. Smith said the schools will see about a 40 percent increase with the new flat rate.

Crosby said the water is a scarce resource. "We have no surplus and we want to encourage people to seriously consider conservation," he said.

"We would love (U.S. Silica) to find your own source of water," Webster said. "We would work with you to find another source."

Webster said the public has 45 days to register a comment with the West Virginia Public Service Commission. The new flat rate is scheduled to go into effect July 1, she said.

The Town of Bath is the municipality inside Berkeley Springs.

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