Corliss: Jefferson Utilities customers getting 'raw deal'

June 20, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- A resident raised concerns Thursday at a Jefferson County Commission meeting about water rate increases being proposed by a private utility company, and he received some support from the commissioners, including one who said customers of the company are getting a "raw deal."

The discussion centered around Jefferson Utilities Inc., which serves about 2,100 residential water customers in the county, said Peter Appignani, a resident in Gap View Village along W.Va. 230 near Halltown, W.Va.

The rates charged by Jefferson Utilities do not compare favorably with national averages, Appignani said.

The federal government estimates the average family in the United States pays about $2 for every 1,000 gallons of water, Appignani said.

Residents in the Deerfield development, off W.Va. 480 near Ridge Road in the Shepherdstown area, would have to pay $100 for every 5,000 gallons under a proposed surcharge from Jefferson Utilities, Appignani said. Eight water systems would see various rate increases, and Appignani said the requests appear to be high.


Gap View Village uses the Meadowbrook water system operated by Jefferson Utilities, Appignani said.

Appignani told the commission that state Public Service Commission officials have determined that Meadowbrook water system customers are paying about 40 percent more than what is needed by Jefferson Utilities to operate and maintain the system.

Appignani said Jefferson Utilities wants to use the money to connect the Meadowbrook system to its Walnut Grove water system.

One of the issues that needs clarified is the relationship between Jefferson Utilities and Snyder Environmental Services, Appignani said. While Jefferson Utilities is claiming to be operating at a loss, Snyder Environmental Services does $14 million worth of work per year, Appignani said.

Both Jefferson Utilities and Snyder Environmental Services are operated by Lee Snyder, Appignani said.

Snyder could not be reached for comment later Thursday.

Appignani asked the commission to contribute resources such as accounting expertise that could be used to determine the exact costs of running the water systems, Appignani said.

Appignani received support from the commissioners, including Greg Corliss and Rusty Morgan.

Corliss suggested that the county's legal department look into the matter, and said that water customers involved appear to be getting a "raw deal."

Corliss' comments drew a round of applause from people seated in the audience who came in to hear the discussion.

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