Marlinton council approves garbage rate hike
Marlinton, W.Va. –
During its Monday night meeting, Marlinton council voted to raise garbage collection rates. The residential bi-monthly bill will increase by $6.50 to $31.50. Similarly, business rates will increase by about 25-percent.
Council committee chairman Norris Long says the increase is due to a rate hike at the county landfill.
“The State Public Service Commission granted the rate increase request to the Solid Waste Authority of Pocahontas County,” he said. “This would raise the rate to get us at a point where we are making a minimum profit and no longer operating at a giant loss.”
Long said the increase will give the town a $1,100 profit per year, which will be deposited into an equipment replacement fund. Council approve the first reading of the rate increase by a 5-0 vote. Councilmember David Zorn was not present.
Councilmember Natasha McMann says she received questions about the Mayor Joe Smith’s use of town vehicles.
“I have been receiving complaints – or not complaints – but questions, as to why we have provided a vehicle to the mayor,” she said. They don’t mind about town business use, but they question if it’s being used for personal reasons and the question is – can we provide this and when did we approve to provide this?”
“I don’t know that this particular council ever approved it,” Smith replied. “It was approved for the previous council, with restrictions. Yes, I do use it for personal use and yes, I do put gas in it myself.”
Smith reads a portion of the current town personnel manual and recorder Robin Mutscheller responds.
“Town employees [sic] are not to be used for personal use by employees – I am not an employee – I am an elected official,” Smith said. “It says nothing about the mayor not being able to use a town vehicle.”
“Maybe the best way to handle this is to ask the Ethics Commission what the rules and regulations are, with regards to the use of public property,” Mutscheller responded.
The mayor says the alleged complaints are hearsay and Mutscheller responds.
“I know that we adopted a complaint concern form,” the mayor said. “You come in here and you say, ‘I get all these complaints,’ or ‘these people keep having these concerns.’ If they don’t have the decency to fill out one of them complaints, to me it’s hearsay and I could care less. Or why did we adopt that form if we’re not going to utilize it?”
“I would guess that folks would feel intimidated,” the recorder responded.
Town residents Joel Srodes and B.J. Gudmunnson speak in favor of the mayor.
“The mayor’s always available,” Srodes said. “He’s always on the job. When we had the big windstorm, he was out there at midnight with the emergency management people, when not a single member of the county commission came out of their house. And this is a working man who’s doing a great job for us and I hate to see him get nit-picked.”
“Actually, there are probably a lot of us who thought that maybe sometimes Joe was stopping in to get a soda pop in the town vehicle,” Gudmunnson said. “But we have a mayor that’s really doing his job and he’s doing it all the time.”
Mutscheller said she would contact the Ethics Commission to see if the mayor violated any laws.
During the mayor’s report, Smith said the Harley Owners Group planned to return to Pocahontas County for their 2013 convention. The mayor said state officials would conduct an educational meeting on highway signage at 1100 on Thursday. Smith told council random drug testing of public employees is illegal, except for employees in designated sensitive jobs, such as air traffic controllers. Finally, the mayor reported a recent boil water advisory was due to heavy rains, muddy water in Knapps Creek and low water levels in the cemetery tanks.
Councilmember Natasha McMann, who has served less than a year, tendered her resignation from council. McMann will be attending West Virginia University in the fall. Anyone interested in serving the remaining three years of McMann’s term should contact the town office.