By Sarah Richardson
Councilman G.P. Parker opened the Nov. 14 meeting of the White Sulphur Springs City Council with a report on the city’s financial state. “The one we look at the most is our general fund, and we’re not flush with money, but I was looking at it today and it looks like we are $39,100.13 to the good, in the black,” he reported. “Our CPA says we are $39,099 to the black, in the good, so I was off by only $1.13. We have positive cash flow now, that doesn’t mean that it’ll get better, it won’t mean it will get worse, we just have to watch our expenses.” He explained that the sewer fund for the year is up $13,370.25, and noted a profitable October with numbers of $33,500. He explained that the first part of the fiscal year, which is July through June, is the “toughest” part due to insurance costs and other expenses. He also reported that the water fund is up $46,800.72.
“We’re really not here to make a profit, we’re here to break even,” he said. “That’s the goal is to break even by the end of the fiscal year.” He noted that their auditor is still reviewing the reports from fiscal year 2021-22, which ended in June 2022. “We were looking pretty bad most of the year, but we were recovering the last three months, the last quarter of the fiscal year was looking a lot better. But we won’t know until next month, and I will hopefully have an update for you then.”
Overall, Parker reiterated, “We are currently not going bankrupt.”
This report followed a public hearing for the proposed water and sewer rate increases, which was held prior to the Council meeting at 6 p.m. in the chambers. Several citizens attended to voice displeasure and concern over the increased rates, however, Council has stated at previous meetings that they are being “forced” into this raise.
“We’ve not had a water or sewer rate increase for 10 years,” explained Mayor Bruce Bowling during the July 2022 City Council meeting. “What the water and sewer boards have come up with is new rates. The water will go from $9.89 [per 1,000 gallons] to $12.74, and the sewer will go from $8.04 [per first 1,000 gallons] to $10.05. So basically, $5 for both of them, and like I’ve said, there’s been nothing done for the last 10 years, maybe 12. Just for an idea of what you guys are paying for water, right now it’s a penny a gallon.” He notes that prices of materials, salaries, and more have increased over the last 10 years, and that the city should have probably raised rates “five years ago.”
Parker explained that the water and sewer funds are controlled by the PSC, so the water and sewer boards report to Council, with the CPA recommending the rate increases. “We talked about the unfunded mandate from the state three years ago, another reason that we are looking at the increased rates now,” said Parker.
The third reading of the water and sewer rate increase was passed unanimously by Council. The sewer rate will be increased by 25 percent and water by 28 percent.
In other news:
-Councilmember Mary Collins said that there will be a home decorating contest this year, with homes needing to be decorated by Dec. 12 to be judged. Call City Hall for more information at 304-536-1454.
-Council voted to approve two youth recreation funding applications, one for Spa City Soccer and one for Pee Wee Basketball “which were already appropriated in the budget.”
-Councilmember Kathy Glover reported that there is $310,963.41 remaining in ARPA funding for the city, which includes some projects that were in the works but not fully completed. She said there are several “pending projects that we are still researching” that could total approximately $290,000, this leaves roughly $20,963.41 of the original monies. The ARPA committee recommended to Council to add two hotspots for public wi-fi in the town, both at MTA bus stops. This recommendation for expenditure was approved unanimously by council. Greenbrier Technologies, who has installed four other hotspots around town, presented a quote of $3,457.80 for the two new hotspots. Collins also said a volunteer has approached the City regarding updating the City website to be “up to date” with new information, including contact info for all sitting Council members. Council approved both requests unanimously.