By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
The Tucker County Commission met with Executive Director Shane Whitehair, of Region VII, Region and Development Council and Attorney Todd Swanson from Steptoe and Johnson to get updates on the development of the Blackwater PSD. Whitehair said to the commissioners, “I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the next steps and answer any questions you have in regards to creating this new PSD. I know we have talked before about some questions you had and we have brought Todd to kinda help us out with the public service requirements and maybe anything you want to address.”
Commissioner Mike Rosenau explained that as a commissioner he had never created a PSD before. Rosenau said, “All of this is new to me.” Rosenau explained that he was inexperienced and did not know where to start with several of the components pretaining to the creation of the PSD such as how many people on the board or even what pipe sizes are used in the project. This was why he wanted to have the work session with Region VII and obtain guidance.
Swanson said, “We have done it before and we will get you where you need to be. You have done everything initially that you needed to do with the orders, proposing the creation, and creating the Blackwater PSD. We made the filing with Public Service Commission (PSC) last fall and things are moving along. We expect a final memo and recommendation from PSC recommending the approval of it around the first of March.
Once we get a satisfied memo saying yes this is great, which we fully anticipate, John McFowler is the staff engineer that has been assigned to it. We will get the final commission (PSC) approval mid to late March. Once they approve it then the PSD will come into existence and that is when you as a Commission will need to appoint board members.”
Swanson explained that three board members was the norm assigned to a PSD and said, “It has to be at least three and I would tell you to initially just do three.”
Rosenau said, “We talked to various Commissions and a couple of them had sewage or something similar but they had an advisory committee to the PSD in their county. Grant County was one of those.” Whitehair explained that was when Grant County had a chicken factory come into the county and Swanson said, “Their structure is a little different over there. There is a utility that is not actualy a PSD over there and a specific statue allows them to have a base water authority. They are really not a PSD.”
Rosenau explained that the authority mentioned was the only one to have five members and everyone else he talked with had three. Swanson said, “Some of the bigger PSDs that have consildated together will have the five members like the Mineral County Frankfort PSD has five board members.”
Rosenau then asked Swanson about a rumor that he heard where the Tucker County Landfill was stating that if they did not obtain a seat on the board they would truck their leachate some where else. Rosenau asked, “I know when I worked with sewage and leachate before if sewage runs in front of your house you can not have a septic tank. Let me ask you this. If they have sewage running in front of their business and they have sewage coming out of there does it have to go to the PSD or can they truck it at a higher cost?”
Swanson said, “They have to take service by code.” Whitehair added by saying, “The other thing is, if there is no reason to expand the line out there other than the landfill, is the PSD going to take the cost to incorporate that. I think the difference on this one is it is a state landfill. Knowing the situation and the cost of transporting, the history of treating it (leachate) itself I do not know if the state would want to continue to truck it.”
Rosenau said, “As a customer, if they choose to dispose of that leachate at a higher rate and I have to incur the cost of it, that is where it would be the problem for me.” Commissioner Fred Davis explained that the landfill was wanting a representative on the board because of the different types of water they would be receiving throughout the year and could advise the board of the different type of water they would be receiving.
Whitehair said to the Commissioners, “It is your decision of who you want to appoint and you know better than anyone else who may be better at this. I think just due to the fact, and we have talked about this before, you are consildating Davis and Thomas and I think adding representatives from those two communities would be essential to the transition of the new PSD.”
Rosenau stated that since the Mayors of Thomas and Davis was elected as the highest official selected by its residents that they should be on the board. It was discussed that the members of the PSD board would have staggered terms such as two, four, and six year terms. Since the Commission would like to appoint the Mayors of Davis and Thomas it was asked if the Mayor position itself could be appointed or the person had to be appointed. Swanson informed the Commission that the actual person not their position is appointed to the board according to code.
It was also informed that the person on the boards needed to be from the district of where the PSD is located. Rosenau asked the other Commissioners to be thinking about who would best serve on the board for the third seat, perferably someone with accounting or engineering experience.
Commissioner Davis asked if the county would be responsible for the existing debt of the two separate Thomas and Davis PSDs. Swanson said, “Whatever debt there is would transfer over to the new PSD, and all the revenue that comes with those customers gets transferred too. So in theory they would still be able to generate the revenue that would satisfy the debt.”
It was established at the ending of the meeting the next step is to get the board established once they receive the approval from the PSC and move on from there. Obtaining an engineering firm is one of the next steps following board appointments. Whitehair and Swanson both expressed that they would be there to help the Commission with anything that is needed.