At Monday night’s Marlinton Town Council meeting, council was asked to explain why it is considering raising the town’s water rates. Several individuals shared their concerns about the increase to their utility bill, stating that they already have issues with their finances.
Mayor Sam Felton explained that council is seeking to raise the water and sewer rates to cover the design loan for the town’s water and sewer project.
“The water bill will be very slight,” he said. “When I say slight, I’m talking maybe twenty-five cents to cover the design loan for the other work that is coming. More significant will be the sewer increase.”
Felton said that in the past, large projects were paid for upfront by the Infrastructure Council, but now towns are required to cover the cost of the loan ahead of the project. Along with the rate increase, council is actively seeking grants and loans to keep the increase at a minimum for residents.
“We are looking for money in every possible direction,” he said. “We’re looking at every possible avenue for funding, and obviously, as much grant funding as we can find.”
Although council is discussing the increase at this time, it will be months before it will show up on bills. Felton said the first reading of the new Ordinance for the increase will be in November; second in December; with the third reading in January 2023.
After the third reading, the ordinance will be placed on public comment for 45 days, at which time residents may offer their input on the increase.
“So the increase that we’re talking about probably will not and would not be in effect before March of 2023,” Felton said.
The residents thanked Felton for the explanation and reiterated that they are against the rate increase.
Council voted and approved moving forward with preparation of the new Ordinance to increase rates sufficient to cover the design loan and to move forward with the change to monthly water and sewer billing.
In other business:
• Councilmember Joe Smith presented council with the personnel committee’s recommendation concerning the animal ordinance.
The issue was first raised at the July council meeting when WVU extension agent Luci Mosesso made a request for a variance to the animal ordinance to allow 4-H members who live within town limits to raise chickens as part of their 4-H project.
The ordinance was also mentioned when council learned a resident had a pet potbellied pig living in town.
Smith explained that the committee reviewed the ordinance and is making the recommendation to not make any changes– to leave it as is.
Reviewing the recommendation, councilmember Gail Hyer said she didn’t understand.
“I’m confused,” she said. “So you looked at the animal ordinance and decided not to do anything, but all of it seems to be based on the (pig) situation on Second Avenue.”
“That is what we were directed to look at,” Smith replied.
[The request by Mosesso was not mentioned when the recommendation was being reviewed.]
Council approved the recommendation, which means livestock animals are not permitted in town limits.
• Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Cara Rose gave her annual report on lodging in the town and said there has been an increase in the county’s hotel/motel tax due to the increase in available lodging.
Marlinton Town Council meets the first Monday of each month, excluding holidays, at 7 p.m. in the municipal building auditorium. The meeting is open to the public who may attend in person or virtually through Zoom.