St. Albans council approves water, sewer budgets

By By Matthew Hill
For the Gazette

St. Albans City Council members on Monday unanimously approved the Municipal Utility Commission’s water and sewer budgets for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Michael Griffith, an accountant with Griffith and Associates, represents the MUC for St. Albans. He described the budget as financially “healthy” in a brief presentation to council.

Similar to what the city has passed for the last couple of years, said Griffith, the sewer budget totals $3.6 million, and the water budget tallies $2.7 million. He noted that the budget meets the city’s debt service coverage requirements and maintains its financial position.

“Water [department] has come to you for a lot of capital improvements,” he explained.

“Sewer [system] is very healthy. The addition of new customers and flow from Greater St. Albans Public Service District has been good for both entities. It has really helped the city financially.”

The number of positions approved by council members for the water and sewer departments remains at 40. An agreement between the city and the Greater St. Albans PSD also funds one additional pump-related employee.

Griffith added only one cause for concern – the MUC is “closely watching” a piece of equipment called a sludge press, which could cost anywhere from $350,000 to more than $1 million. The city formerly used two of them simultaneously.

Now, said Griffith, they are cannibalizing parts from one to keep the other operating. “We’ll have to deal with it one day soon. It’s the long-term plan for MUC to deal with that issue. It’s a pretty significant item.”

During the public forum segment of Monday’s meeting, St. Albans High School girls basketball coach Scott James spoke passionately of the need for a recreational center, comparing the lost economic opportunity that the lack thereof entails to the city’s decision to fight to have Interstate 64 constructed on the opposite side of the Kanawha River many years ago.

According to James, the city has tended to seniors and the arts. “It’s time we had a rec center,” he declared.

James told of a facility in town that is worth over $3 million but whose owner is willing to sell it for $650,000. Mayor Dick Callaway assured James that the matter is being discussed. “It’s not a dead issue,” the mayor added.

In other business, council members:

Approved payment of current invoices in the amount of $24,124.02.

Paid State Equipment $25,182 for two new Kubota tractors for the Public Works Department.

Remunerated TNT Garage Doors $9,788 for two doors for Fire Department Station 2.

Proffered $6,413.11 to North American Salt Company for snow removal salt for the Public Works Department.

Gave approval to the purchase of radio equipment for the Fire Department from Electronic Communications in the amount of $13,494.

Referred to the Ordinance Committee the renaming of Dug Out Lane near Kirk Field to Jim Lewis Lane.

St. Albans City Council will meet again at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 19.

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