Timberline Four Seasons Utilities (TFSU) will provide immediate and continuing authorization and access for Canaan Valley Public Service District (CVPSD) to inspect their bank records and accounts as the result of months of unpaid utility bills.
The interim relief plan accepted by TFSU, West Virginia Public Service Commission (WVPSC), and CVPSD is as follows:
CVPSD will sweep a TFSU account on November 17, for $8,000, November 25 for $8,000, and on November 30 for $11,917.50 for August 2018 utility payments.
CVPSD will sweep a TFSU account on December 17 for $8,000, on December 25 for $8,000, and December 30 for $11,917.50 for September 2018 utility payments.
CVPSD will sweep a TFSU account on January 17 for $8,000, on January 25 for $8,000, and on January 30 for $11,917.50 for October 2018 utility payments.
CVPSD will sweep a TFSU account on November 30 and the 30th day of each month in the amount of $27,917.50 of each month to satisfy regular payments owed to CVPSD.
According to the transcript from the October 30 West Virginia Public Service Commission hearing, the money in the TFSU accounts will come from monthly customer utility payments.
During the October 30 WVPSC hearing, Judge Keith A. George said, “Any reason to believe this money will be in the account?”
As a representative of TFSU, Attorney Christopher Negley responded, “We do believe it will be in the account. This is the reason we structure it in this manner and that we are and that the payment was amenable, because people start paying their monthly obligations around the 15th. And they then pay them intermittently through the end of the month. So we accept the 17th, the 25th, and the 30th. We do believe there’s money available.”
Attorney Leslie Anderson as a representative for WVPSC said, “And we recommend that emergency interim relief be granted in the form that the parties have agreed to. We believe that’s in the public interest on an interim basis. And believe it’s in the interest of Canaan Valley PSD, as well as an interest of Timberline Four Seasons Utilities’ customers, so they can get caught up without it being too far behind and impossible to catch up. And we recommend the Judge issue an order as soon as possible adopting it.”
In correspondences between WVPSC and TFSU, Attorney Negley responded to the question of finances paid or received from a TFSU account between May 1 and July 31 of this year, “The bank statement for May shows five miscellaneous debits totaling $19,271.30, the bank statement for June shows three miscellaneous debits totaling $9,141.48, and the July bank statement shows sixteen miscellaneous debits totaling $101,950.69. TFSU will report within seven days regarding these nature of these debits.” This response was filed on November 1.
Negley also responded to WVPSC questions concerning general journal, cash disbursement journal, statement of cash flow, balance sheet and check register monthly in this group of cases as a continuing request for information regarding Timberline Utilities financial situation.
Negley responded to these questions, “From looking at the bank statement ended 8/31/2017 it appears customer collections were well below normal, with total receipts of only $32,670 from non-affiliate customers ($63,720 total deposits less $31,050 transferred from affiliates to cover operating shortfalls). In 2016, monthly receipts from non-affiliates averaged approximately $53,000.”
Software billing issues in August were cited as the cause of bills to go out late, which resulted in lower customer collections.
The WVPSC document asked, “Is Timberline Utilities properly and timely billing all of its customers each month?” Negley responded, “Yes.”
The WVPSC document continued, “Has Timberline Utilities deposited checks its customers have paid for water or sewer service into affiliate accounts rather than into Timberline Utilities’ accounts?” Negley responded, “No.”
On November 5, Diane Hinkle sent an email to Office of Environmental Health Services Engineer Craig Cobb regarding the area’s loss of revenue. “I just met with the county prosecutor and local realtors who are collectively losing $27,300/day. This is based on an average of $150 per day/180 rental properties,” Hinkle’s email read.
“I can assure you that we are in an emergent state based on the loss of revenue and loss of public trust that what should be one of Tucker County’s finest assets cannot guarantee safe drinking water. Any action that comes of the December hearing will not address the immediate crisis,” the email continued.
Hinkle stated that county officials had no contact with the 2016 financial issues between CVPSD and TFSU. “The county has no authority over a public utility,” Hinkle said.
Davis resident Josh Tompkins worked for 16 seasons as a bartender and on the ski slopes. “I left Timberline because every year the rumors would flood that they wouldn’t be able to open, the seasons were getting shorter and shorter because of reduced opening and closing dates.”
Multiple Timberline employees reported late payments, but none cited missed paychecks. Tompkins cited a lack of financial accountability with Timberline employees.
Tompkins noted a lack of reinvestment in infrastructure for the resort. “They would need an amazing amount of money, to fix repair, replace,” Tompkins said. He cited new lifts, ski industry savvy employees, qualified service and bar personnel, and upgrades to the lodge as all needing reinvestment.
Tompkins stated that each year of his tenure, “It’s always been a mad dash in December to get everything up and running.”
Lift inspector Chris Hanrahan is scheduled to evaluate Timberline’s lifts on November 26. Hanrahan is a contracted inspector for Alpine Shield insurance company. This is Hanrahan’s first inspection of the lifts at Timberline.