The Tucker County Commission approved the allocation of $25,000 to the city of Thomas to help complete upgrades to its sewage treatment plant as well as $3,000 each to the city of Parsons and the Thomas Parks and Recreation Board at Wednesday's meeting.
Thomas Mayor Matt Quattro also spoke to the Commission regarding the city's sudden request for such substantial funding.
"Our sewage treatment plant has been under a West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) consent order to bring it up to standards for about four years." Quattro said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Anna Patrick
Thomas Mayor Matt Quattro requests $25,000 to update the city’s sewage treatment plant at Wednesday’s meeting of the Tucker County Commission.
According to Quattro, the original estimate to clean the settling pond, dispose of the sludge and bring the plant into compliance was over $200,000.
"To make a long story short I've finally got it down to where we can do the work for about $93,000," he said. "In the meantime, the DEP has given me a $92,000 fine because I haven't complied, but if I do this work the fine will go away.
"The project was to be financed the way we set it up by a surcharge on the sewer bill from everybody in town. We started collecting that money last fall and the idea was that we were going to borrow the money we needed from the bank and the surcharge was going to pay off the loan."
Quattro explained that the bank providing the loan required a letter from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to use as collateral, but the PSC would not agree to the stipulations. "Without a letter the bank will not give me the money. So here I am with two weeks away from the project and my financing went away."
Quattro was able to secure a $50,000 Community Participation Grant from the Governor's office. The city will also use $10,000 from its budget and $8,000 from sewer collections to go towards the project. "That leaves me $25,000 short of my $93,000 project," Quattro said.
The commission unanimously approved a motion by Commissioner Mike Rosenau "to give the city of Thomas for the sewer project the total request of $25,000."
The city of Parsons requested an additional $10,000 from the commission to fund its streetscape project; however, the commission agreed to only allocate $3,000 to the project.
The commission previously allocated $30,000 to the city of Parsons to complete the original project of revamping First and Second Street in Parsons with new ADA compliant handicap sidewalks, street lights, park benches, trash cans, brick accents and informational signage.
The city's funding request to the commission stated, "The city bid and cutback this project from its original design twice in an effort to bring it within the available funding and has failed in both attempts. The most recent bid tabulation revealed that even with the lowest bidder, the city was short $95,751."
Parsons City Administrator Jason Myers said the city contacted the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) and requested $100,000 in additional funding to complete the project. The DOH agreed to commit $80,000 if the city could secure $20,000 in a local match. The city of Parsons is able to add $10,000 from its budget, but needs the commission's help for the remaining amount.
"We've cut the project in half virtually and still over budget. How did that happen," Rosenau asked. "You can take an early withdrawal from the Harman fund. With the initial investment the county had with this project I think we've been more than generous."
The President of the Tucker County Commission, Tom Carr said, "I don't know if we can do the 10 right now. We do have a $6,000 grant that we can divvy up. My suggestion this morning is we could give you half of that $3,000."
The commission allocated the second half of their $6,000 state grant to the Thomas Parks and Recreation Board to help fund the paving of the walking track around the field at the Thomas Community Center.
"The governor encourages us to use (the grant) for the health and welfare of our citizens also and that would fall under that category," Carr said.
"There's a need at both places and we only have so much money. So what do you do? You try to help both as best as you can," Rosenau said.
Representing the Park Board, Karen Linton, explained that the project to pave the gravel track was quoted at $14,000. The board has already obtained $7,000 for the job and was asking the commission for the remaining $7,000.
The board's funding request to the commission stated, "We cannot complete this project unless we receive additional funding. We have conducted fundraising events and received some outside donations. It has taken us three years to get to this point of the project."
The next Tucker County Commission meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on July 25 in the Tucker County Courthouse courtroom in Parsons.