MTC reinstates penalties and cut-offs, approves increased rates and charges

Jaynell Graham

Marlinton Town Council voted Monday night to reinstate penalties and shut-offs for unpaid water and sewer bills.
Penalties and shut-offs were discontinued in March due to an increase in the county’s unemployment numbers brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From March until October 31, unpaid water bills stood at $31,591, while sewer bills added another $17,108 to uncollected town revenue.

Recorder BJ Gudmundsson said the town had continued the policy for several months, and she is concerned that there are families that will get in a situation where they will not be able to pay the amount they owe.

Gudmundsson made a motion that the penalties and cut-offs, with proper notification, be put back into effect immediately.

Council unanimously approved the motion.

In other business regarding town utilities, Susan Riggs with Spillman, Thomas and Battle, PLLC, presented information for the third and final reading of the town’s new Sewer Rate Ordinance, part of which is as follows:

NOTICE is hereby given that the Town of Marlinton has adopted by ordinance, on January 4, 2021, a tariff of the Sewer Utility of the Town of Marlinton containing increased rates and charges for furnishing sewer service to approximately 666 customers in and around the Town of Marlinton in the County of Pocahontas.

The proposed increase in rates and charges will become effective 45 days after the date of adoption of the ordinance, unless otherwise ordered by the Public Service Commission, and will produce approximately $64,000 annually in additional revenue, an increase of 26%. The average monthly bill for the various classes of customers will be changed (increased) as follows:

Residential (3,599 gallons) – $8.03
Commercial (11,559 gallons) – $25.78
Public Authority (15,258 gallons) – $34.03

Full details can be found in the block legal ad on page 8 of this edition of The Pocahontas Times.

Riggs said the ordinance will bring the town into compliance so it can move forward with the proposed Sewer Improvement Project.

Councilmember Scott Gibb moved to approve the ordinance, seconded by councilmember Gail Hyer. Councilmember Chris Curry opposed the motion.

Marlinton Fire and Rescue Chief Herby Barlow presented the department’s activity report for 2020, and advised council that the MVFD remains in good standing with the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

The department has 27 members on its roster at this time, and they responded to 663 calls in 2020, up from previous years.

Barlow said that they have transported several possible COVID patients, therefore ambulances are thoroughly disinfected after each run.

Some members have taken the COVID vaccine, but Barlow said to do so is strictly voluntary.

EMS responded to 477 calls, excluding vehicle accidents with injury, which accounted for another 15 responses.

There are currently three fires of suspicious nature under investigation with the fire marshal’s and sheriff’s offices.

The department also responded to 36 calls to secure the helicopter landing zone at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital.

Marlinton Police Officer Ian Galloway submitted his written report for the month of December, showing he responded to 45 calls including 18 traffic stops, resulting in two arrests, three assists on arrests and four tickets.

The nature of the calls ran the gamut from assault/battery and a domestic situation to welfare checks and a missing person.
In other business, council

• denied a request for another streetlight in Campbelltown, as the distance between lights is the same as those in town

• approved payment of $27,910 for engineering related costs associated with the town’s Water Improvement Project

• readopted the 2015 International Property Maintenance Code at the recommendation of Zach Graham, the town’s Code Enforcement Officer and Floodplain Coordinator.

Marlinton Town Council meets at 7 p.m. the first Monday of each month, holidays excluded. At this time, meetings are held via Zoom and teleconference. Contact the town office at 304-799-4315 for access info and meeting agenda.

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