Sewer rate increase of 36.67% moves forward in Westover

WESTOVER — Westover City Council on Monday approved the second reading of a 36.67% sewer rate increase for city residents. 

If ultimately adopted at council’s April 15 meeting, the new rates would take effect 45 days later, on May 30.  

This will be the second increase for Westover residents in a little over a year. A bump of about 9% was approved last April. 

The increased revenue is part of the city’s financing plan for the long-awaited Holland Avenue work as well as replacement of the city’s main pump station, which delivers all Westover’s sanitary sewer flow beneath the Monongahela River to join the MUB system.  

In addition to running and maintaining Westover’s sanitary sewer operation, the collections will repay up to $5 million in sewer revenue bonds to be purchased by the West Virginia Water Development Authority. 

Tom Aman, of Steptoe & Johnson, explained the actual amount to be repaid is currently estimated at $4,225,000. That number won’t be finalized until the project is bid.  

The terms of the bonds are 20 years at 3% interest. 

This will make up a little over half the estimated $8.25 million cost to construct both projects. The rest is primarily coming from a $2 million WVWDA grant and $1.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars.    

In other Holland Avenue news, Public Works Director Jason Stinespring said it sounds like the West Virginia Division of Highways has signed off on a work schedule for the project, which will impact about 2,000 feet of the roadway. 

According to Stinespring, the DOH wants work conducted at night and the road open during the day. 

He said construction would begin at either 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. and run until 7 a.m. 

“What happens at night, they’re only allowed to work so many linear feet. So, if they say, just as an example, it’s 100 linear feet. Once you go those 100 linear feet, you backfill and that’s all you can go because the road will be open during the day – both lanes,” he said.  

“They have to backfill whatever they do overnight so during the day there will be no disruption. The gravel will probably be better than the road is now, honestly.” 

At night, the road will be reduced to one lane for passenger cars. Large trucks will be rerouted around the construction. 

City Attorney Tim Stranko said this option will increase costs. 

“Hopefully, we’ll have a nice pool of bidders, but it may constrain our bidding pool as well. So, these are things we’ll work around as we’re going forward,” he said. 

The project is expected to go out for bid this summer.