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HURRICANE COUNCIL NEWS: Hurricane Water, Sewer Rates Set to Jump in February

The Hurricane City Council approved an ordinance increasing water and sewer rates to customers at its January 2nd meeting. All customers of the City of Hurricane utility will see their bills increase in three increments with the first in 45 days from the January 2nd meeting, which will be February 16, 2024 to be followed by a second and third increase in February of 2025 and 2026. In dollar amount, minimum bills (2,000 gallon water usage) will increase by $5 each time for water. Minimum sewer bills will increase as follows: February 16, 2024 – $3.28, February 2025 – $3.30, and February 2026 – $3.00. There are 3,700 water customers served by the City of Hurricane. The monthly bill for all users will increase by the same percentage. Customers using twice the minimum 2,000 gallons will see bills reflecting increases which are twice the minimum increase.

Council acted after hearing from Michael Griffith who serves as a consultant to the city on financial matters. Griffith advised the council that the current rates are not in compliance with legal requirements. A city run utility is deemed to be out of compliance if its enacted rates cannot generate 12% reserve in revenue. A city utility is not eligible for grants and cannot issue bonds unless it meets the reserve requirement.

In the near future, the water department will need to borrow money to finance a $1 million replacement tank, a $200,000 clarifier, and $1 million in pipe replacement. The sewer department will require a $2 million clarifier, a $400,000 lift station, and $1.2 million in replacement filters. If the City of Hurricane water and sewer systems were to fail to meet treatment standards, their operation would be assumed by a different utility. West Virginia American Water has assumed control of numerous systems throughout the state.

The City of Hurricane last increased water rates in 2019. Sewer rates have been unchanged since 2017.

Assistance to low-income households for utilities is available through a number of utility assistance programs. The programs include Putnam Heart & Hand – 304-543-8770; Enact Community Action, Hurricane Service Office – 304-562-6037; Faith In Action – 304-881-7253; DHHR – 304-586-1520 and Mountaineer Rental Assistance, Renters: 1-866-623-6284, Homeowners: 1-844-542-0035.

In other business, council recognized Hurricane High School’s Ty Steorts for settng a State Record in the Class AAA Cross Country championship meet. Council also recognized the Hurricane High School Cheerleaders for winning the State Cheerleading Championship and the Hurricane Middle School Soccer Team for winning the MVAC championship.

Hurricane Police Chief Mike Mullins presented council with a summary of his department’s activities for the calander year 2023 in addition to his December report. Mullins stated that in 2023, HPD made 183 arrests charged to the State, 128 arrests charged to the City, responded to 232 EMR calls, took 319 accident reports, issued 653 citations and 1,747 warnings, and seized $54,952 in cash with $19,550 being forfeited to the department. Drug seizures for the year were 477.8 grams of Meth, over 19 pounds of Marijuana, 32 grams of Fentanyl, 16 grams of cocaine, 5.5 grams of Heroin, 4.3 grams of Yellow Fentanyl, 1.7 grams of Blue Fentanyl, and 18 grams of Crack Cocaine.

City offices will be closed on January 15th in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. The next council meeting will be Monday, February 5, at 6:30 p.m.

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