Upshur County residents should brace themselves for a 20 percent increase to
their water bills after the first of the year, as the Buckhannon Water
Department needs the additional revenue to take on some long-delayed
maintenance projects and system upgrades.
City attorney David McCauley said legislation could be presented at an
upcoming city council meeting. The increase would also effect those county
Public Service Districts which purchase their water from the city department.
"Buckhannon has done a good job of holding our rates down as long as they
can," McCauley said. "But one of the compelling reasons for the increase is
there are plans for a new water tank, upgrades and deferred maintenance items.
Unless you have the bucks, you can't do them."
This would be the first increase to water rates since 2007, and only the
second in the past 15 years. McCauley said the state Public Service Commission
recommends that rates be increased every three to five years.
"Employees' salaries and benefits come out of those revenues," he said. "The
cost of doing business never gets lower. But folks don't like increases, so we
have tried not to do that."
The new water tank would be an addition to the local system, and McCauley said
the rule of thumb is to set aside about $1 for each gallon the tank is
expected to hold. The new tank is being designed as a 1 million gallon tank.
Residents pay about $15.48 per 4,000 gallons of water on their monthly bills.
That rate would jump to $18.76.
A public hearing will be held on Nov. 15 at the start of the regular city
council meeting, and that will be followed by the second reading of the
Of the 398 regulated water utility companies in West Virginia, Buckhannon's
rates rank as the 40th lowest.