By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County Clerk Sherry Simmons was on hand at City of Parsons Council meeting to swear in elected officials. The first to be sworn into for a returning term was Mayor Dorothy Judy. New council members added to the council are Kathy DiBacco, James “Sam” Humphrey, and Timothy Turner. Returning council members are Timothy Auvil, Recorder Bruce Kolsun (not present at meeting and was sworn in at Simmons’ office on a prior date), and Melissa Jones.
- Simmons had the appointees repeat after her by saying, “I (state your name) do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of West Virginia. And I will faithfully discharge my duties as Council (Mayor was used for Judy’s swearing-in) members of the City of Parsons to the best of my skill and judgement so help me God.”
After Mayor Judy welcomed the new members, the council got down to business at hand. The first item of business was the changes being proposed for Article 936 Water Tariff Ordinance. Before the third and final reading of the article took place Gary Herron and Nicoda Evans addressed the council with questions and concerns about the proposed water bill changes.
Herron asked the council why the 10 percent rate increase was taking place now and why not do it small increments before now. Councilman Auvil explained that there has not been an increase in the rates in almost 10 years because they did not want to increase residents’ bills, but at it stands now with rising cost of parts, chemicals, and supplies the city is actually losing money with revenue remaining the same.
Auvil said, “It has been 10 years since our last water rate increase. We are required by PSC (Public Service Commission) regulations to meet 1.5 percent MHI which is median household income of what our rates have to be. The MHI is determined by the census. In order to qualify for any kind of grants or bonds of any sort to make improvements.
We are also required by PSC regulations to have 115 percent of debt coverage. Right now, we are currently around $40,000 in the hole a year in the water department alone. We are not going to be changing them (the rates) every ten years like this. We will be reevaluating them every three years, so it is a minor increase.”
A minimum bill will increase $2.86 which is 10 percent of the water portion of the bill. Sewer will not have an increase because it just received an increase some time ago. In the future rates increases will be evaluated and adjusted every three years for both sewer and water but will be staggered.
Evans stated her questions were answered through Auvil’s explanation to Herron. The only real question she had was concerning her personal water bill and why even when she is gone for a month at a time the rate is the same. Auvil explained that her bill was for a minimum monthly use, but she could always call down to the city and have her water shut off when she is out of town. The city will turn it back on for her when she is due to return. There is no charge for this.
Randy Watson from Thrasher Engineering was guest speaker. Watson brought new council members up to speed on three main projects happening in Parsons. Watson has been collaborating with Parsons since 1996.
One project is the Intragovernmental connection being made between Parsons PSD and Hamrick PSD to help each other in case of a water shortage emergency. The connection will allow one or the other to receive water from their treatment plants through a connection at the river. This connection is a requirement and a result from the disaster that happened in Charleston when chemicals got in their water supply. This Project is totally funded through the Small Cities Block Grant.
Concerning the use of the intra-connection Auvil said, “We are communities that work together in the event of an emergency. This is only going to be used in the event of an emergency and if they (Hamrick PSD) need help we are going to help them and vice versa.”
Another project is the $5 mil sewer project to replace and upgrade the sewer lines. As well fixing man holes and upgrading the sanitary sewer system in the area. This will be done ensure I/I (Infiltration and Inflow) does not get into the infiltration system.
The last major project is the replacement of the remaining 25 percent of water lines. Phases one and two are completed. The goal is to have no more than 12 people on a two-inch pipe line. Fire hydrates will also be installed where required.
The council regretfully accepted the letter of resignation from Lieutenant David E. Gidley II effective July 1. In his letter Gidley said, “It has been my greatest privilege to serve the citizens of Tucker County and the City of Parsons over the last 28 years. I appreciate the commitment the City of Parsons has taken to ensure that the Police Department be properly equipped, trained, and staffed. Great strides have been made in these areas over the last few years and it is my wish that this continues so that current and future officers will be able to serve the community in the manner it so deserves.”
The Parsons Police Department hosted a surprise retirement party for Gidley on Saturday, July 9 at 1 p.m. at the community center. At which time Gidley was presented with his retirement badge, retired service weapon, and presented a plague of appreciation.
Auvil gave praise and appreciation for every city employee that showed up during the recent water line break. The break was a major three foot crack up an eight-inch line by the Subway and Billings area. Auvil commended Clarksburg Water Board as well for supplying the parts that were needed to fix the break. Auvil said, “They had the right components to fix the leak and came with a truck load of parts.”
Auvil gave a special shout out to Agnes (Aggie) Arnold who answered the phones and brought food out to the employees on two occasions.
Auvil commended Parsons’ PSD workers John “Red” Lipscomb and Ryan for coming out and jumping right to work on the leak. Lipscomb was on vacation in Dry Fork at the time.
Also commended for their help was Jason Lipscomb who is the manager of Hamrick PSD and Kevin Lewis with the department of highways.
Auvil said, “It was a team effort, and I cannot say enough about how proud I am of everyone that showed up and helped fix the leak.”
For the last order of business newly appointed council member Turner asked for three items to be concerned. First, Turner would like a discussion item added to the next meeting’s agenda for the outsourcing of payroll to save money. Turner stated he would get all information together for the discussion. Second, Turner asked for the discussion agenda item to be added concerning the posting of the City Manager/Treasurer position for the next meeting as well. And thirdly, Turner asked for more communication from the City of Parsons office. Turner stated, “Communication needs to happen.” And when asked by whom did more communication need to go to Turner responded by saying, “Everyone.”
The next City Council Meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at the Charles W. “Bill” Rosenau Municipal Building. If you would like an item placed on the agenda, feel free to contact Parsons Business Office at 304-478-2311.