Environmental compliance is important to all of us. But, it is expensive. Safety regulations are a must. They, too, are costly.
To compare Marlinton’s utility costs to any other utility, you should consider the entire story. I remember reading in the Charleston Gazette, that one utility in the southern part of the state had been on a boil-water advisory for 16.5 years. Several other utilities had been in the same condition from two-to-eight years. Some water service companies in the coalfields were originally constructed by coal companies who have shut down and moved out. Still others have been purchased by individuals who “try to collect enough” to have running water “most-of-the-time.” Cheap is not always best.
Marlinton’s water cost relates to several factors. Surface water (Knapps Creek) costs more to treat than groundwater. Those costs keep going up. Many water plant operations and maintenance costs are fixed. If a thousand dollars of cost is divided among 1,000 customers, everyone pays a dollar. For the same amount of cost, 500 customers will pay two dollars each. Because of various agency and environmental regulations, much of the costs remain the same even for 100 customers. For fixed cost, fewer customers are forced to bear the burden.
Half News may be as harmful as Fake News. No municipal utility can “just willy-nilly decide to raise water rates.” Justification for an increase must go before the Public Service Commission. Lawyers and engineers must decide if and when a rate increase is merited. Then, hearings, public meetings, and public notifications with proposed rates and timelines are required, before authorization to implement said rates are allowed.
Marlinton’s water rates are what they are, but they certainly are not the highest in the state.
Go to the Public Service Commission website and compare other utility rates. Remember to go to the utility details and see that the Town of Marlinton bills every two months. When you run a West Virginia Public Service Commission; Water Utility Cost Ranking – 4,000 Gallons – as of March 5, 2021, you will find Marlinton at #364 of 367. Use the current 4,000 gallon Marlinton minimum rate of $78.60 for two months. Look at lesser rates and you will find monthly billing. Divide the Marlinton rate in half for a cost of $39.30 per month. This alone brings Marlinton’s ranking from #367 to #136. With their many customers, The West Virginia-American Water Company (which serves Charleston) is $34.50 per month and ranked at #88.
For those who want to pay monthly – you can always pay your bill on a monthly basis.