The water rate in Sistersville will increase $7 after the West Virginia Public Service Commission ordered the city to raise the rates earlier this month.
Speaking at a meeting of Sistersville City Council Oct. 9, Allen Wilson of the Sistersville Water Board said the city had been contacted by the Public Service Commission regarding the rates. In 2007, a three-phase plan was approved by council to be put into effect over a two-year period.
Wilson said the first phase took effect in April 209, raising the rate to $29 per month, and the second phase raised the rate to $32.50 per month. However, before the third phase could take effect, council decided not to move forward with it. That would have taken effect in May 2010.
Earlier this month, the PSC contacted the city after receiving calls from residents regarding water rate concerns. Sistersville Mayor David Fox said after being notified of the concerns, the commission began looking into the rates and notified the city that the rates must be increased to $39 per month.
"It is mandated by the Public Service Commission that we raise the rates," Fox said.
Wilson said nothing can be done about the rates, as the city and water board's hands are tied. He said while having the conversation with the commission, the city checked on other utility rates, which the commission said were within the rules.
"If anyone has any problems with the rate change, they need to contact the Public Service Commission because they are forcing the issue," Wilson said.
In other business, council approved the closing of the Sistersville City Hall business office for four hours beginning at noon every Thursday. Fox said closing the office and turning off the phones will allow for employees to get caught up on a backlog of work.
"People are constantly coming in, and they can't get caught up on work," he said. "They will be in here working and have four hours to get serious work done."
Council also approved an agenda item that allows the city to accept credit card payment for water bills. Fox said individuals can still pay their bills as they normally do, but have the option of paying with credit card both in person and over the phone. A convenience charge of roughly $4.50 on the average bill will be added to the customer's bill.