BRANCHVILLE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL: Residents unhappy with water and sewer rates | Government and politics

COREY BRECHLIN T&D Correspondent

The Branchville City Council meeting saw an influx of attendees in February due to rising rates for water, sewer and all related charges.

Citizens of Branchville and the rural community surrounding Branchville who use the city’s water said their rates had increased between 50% and 200%; not the 3% annual increase they would expect.

Mayor Frank Dickson opened the discussion on the water issue by informing those present of what led them to this decision.

Between 1997 and 2008, the city of Branchville took out five loans from the USDA for the city’s water and sewer.

As of December 31, 2021, the city owes the USDA $2,592,103.66, with the first loan ending in 2017 and the last ending in 2048.

Dickson pointed out that he was unaware of these loans when he took office several years ago.

The council met with Harold Young, the county administrator, about what to do with their water system and the debt, and with them serving the city and county around them, they made a bid for sell it to the county and have them handle the situation.

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They were turned down, but Young said they were free to sell it if they could find a buyer.

They have worked with the state water commission to determine how they can work on repaying these loans and have been given tariffs to charge citizens and rural water users.

Dickson then gave the floor to concerned citizens.

Kim Merrick spoke about interest rates, that the ones the city is paying at 4.5% are too high, and that the city needs to investigate refinancing these loans.

“What did you do to refinance our bills? she asked, wanting her water bills and those of others to return to their usual rates.

Dickson said they only started looking into the matter recently when they were asked to start repaying the loans because the county had covered the payments until the funds they had been given had run out. are exhausted.

Several other people present expressed their displeasure, expressing how they think it is wrong that people have to choose between paying their water bill or their medicine or their groceries.

Dickson said if anyone has any questions, he’s at City Hall on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Blaine Heffelfinger spoke at the reunion, thanking the city for their help with last year’s Raylroad Daze Festivul, and how it was a huge success. He said there was a golf tournament scheduled for May 15, with other fundraisers to follow. Raylroad Daze will be held September 22-24. $5.99 for the first month

Councilman Brett Banks announced that practices for the baseball and softball teams have begun and there will be an upcoming Jamboree in March.

The next Branchville council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on March 14 at Branchville City Hall, 7644 Freedom Road.

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