Vega, Butcher Oppose Rate Hikes

Council amends, adopts MUB’s water, sewer rate increases

BEN CONLEY, THE DOMINION POST
 

Morgantown W.Va. — Morgantown City Council approved water, sewer and stormwater rate increases for customers of the Morgantown Utility Board on Tuesday, but it took some doing.

Council voted 5-2, with Ixya Vega and Brian Butcher voting in the minority, to approve a 13 % increase to water rates.

Prior to approving the increase however, council voted 4-3 to amend the water rate ordinance to remove a $10 bump in reconnection fees and a $5 bump in returned check charges. The amended ordinance will keep those fees at their current amounts—$15 and $20, respectively.

While Deputy Mayor Danielle Trumble said she understands MUB’s need to adjust rates, “I’m still having an issue with fee increases that unequally impact the poorest among us that are already having a hard time paying their bills and getting disconnected.”

 

That amendment, put forward by Trumble, was opposed by councilors Bill Kawecki, Dave Harshbarger and Mayor Jenny Selin.

MUB General Manager Mike McNulty said the increase in fees is a way for the utility to recoup a portion of its expenses.

“This doesn’t recover our cost to go out and pull the meter, then go back and put it back in service, ” McNulty said, explaining that ultimately not getting those fee increases “Would have no impact, really, on the revenue.”

A second amendment, this one from Butcher, would have eliminated the built-in 3 % inflationary rate increases for 2024, 2025 and 2026 included in the ordinance.

Butcher said he didn’t see why MUB needed those increases approved now and couldn’t simply come back before council for the years in question.

Selin responded, recalling a request made to the utility board in 2016, when it brought increases of 33 % (water) and 87.5 % (sewer) before council.

“The last time we had rate increases, we asked MUB when they are putting forward rate increases that we did a little bit at a time, ” Selin said, adding, “I would say that this system of rate increases is MUB’s answer to that … We had asked that there be more of these types of incremental increases.”

That amendment failed 4-3, with Vega, Trumble and Butcher voting in the minority.

Read the full article here.

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