Marlinton Mayor’s Corner

Once again, Pioneer Days has come and gone. From my viewpoint, most activities went very well. Typically, the Pioneer Days Committee meets soon after the event to go over details and make a report to include in planning for next year.

No, it is not like it used to be. Many things are better.

Thanks go to the Pioneer Days Committee for a job well done.

I also want to thank the civic organizations for what they contribute to this event.

And a big “thank you” to the Marlinton Fire Department for cleaning Main Street and to the local Department of Highways crew for spot paving and highway mowing prior to the start of Pioneer Days. Once again, Louise Barnisky, Cindy Sabota and Vada Wilson had the flowers in the street planters looking beautiful. There are many businesses and individuals who contributed and hosted special events such as the Open House at the Depot, the Ina Montgomery Memorial at McClintic Library, as well as class reunions.

The car show had 78 entries this year, coming from Covington, Virginia, to Fairmont, with the majority from here within the county. All of these efforts put together make our festival possible. Good things happen when we work together.

Speaking of work – the water plant project conference call happened Monday at 2 p.m., as scheduled. There is no further information to report than what has already been shared.

The good news is, we are still in consideration for the extra $1million of grant money. The bad news is, the next meeting of the Infrastructure Jobs Development Council (IJDC) is not until July 25 and a decision from that meeting will not be made or announced until August 2. I intend to be at the July 25 meeting. The Town has requested proposed rates, anticipating the full amount of grant money, one-half the amount, and a proposed rate without any additional funding. Also, at Monday’s meeting, I requested a further detailed explanation for the additional cost estimate – most of which has already been discussed without the benefit of written documentation.

The week before last, I referenced that Marlinton is like many cities, depending on portions of a water distribution system installed prior to World War II. Water breaks occur each year, costing the town thousands of dollars. Both physically and figuratively, we are where we are. But, without a functioning water plant, water breaks could be the least of our worries.

To have an affordable water plant is very subjective. How much would the failure of a water plant cost? So, at Monday’s meeting, I requested a cost scenario and protocol, in the event of a plant failure. Also, when we (users) wish for another city’s lower water rate, we must be realistic about the facts. Larger cities with larger public water systems and more customers enjoy a lower unit price. Furthermore, larger cities often offset the cost of water rates with high property taxes and other user fees. A major point users should consider is that “No city can duplicate another city’s water rate unless those exact conditions exist.”

Utilities, however, must provide customers the assurance of turning on the tap and having clean and abundant water. There is a cost benefit for this service.

I wish we had Roanoke’s gas prices. But, we are not in Roanoke.

In 1973, I purchased a new Ford F-150 truck, for $3,400 – not a mis-print. Some years later, I remember thinking $10,000 was too much for a similar vehicle. Again, I thought people would just quit buying vehicles at $25,000. Obviously, that did not happen. Now, I think $40,000-to-$50,000 is too much. The manufacturers think differently.

Municipalities must maintain operations plus state law requires a reserve, as mandated by the legislature, sufficient to replace aging infrastructure. The July invoices approved by Marlinton Town Council included a Public Service Commission “fees assessment” of $1,601, which is a sample of other operating cost that comes out of the water fund. Most of which the average customer would have no reason to be aware of.

Next week: I hope to talk about billing cycles and minimum rates.

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