Pocahontas PSD Scrambles To Spend Leftover Water Project Money
Durbin, WV – The Pocahontas Public Service District has money left over from the Bartow-Frank-Durbin water upgrade project, which was completed in July. The utility received $432,000 in funding commitments for the project, 50-percent from grants, and 50-percent from low-interest loans.
After construction contractor J.F. Allen Company finished repairing water lines in the B-F-D corridor, the PSD had about $148,000 remaining. During the November 29 PSD meeting at the Durbin Fire Hall, Region IV executive director W.D. Smith told the board why there was so much leftover money.
“They ended up not doing as much work as they thought they were going to have to,” he said. “If you recall, this project was a little bit gray around the edges. We really didn’t know how much water lines would need replaced and how many meter sets would have to be done – that, they finished under budget, which is good news. You can do other things.”
The PSD received Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council approval and spent about $62,000 of the leftover money to repaint the interior and exterior of the Bartow water tank. The utility must act quickly to spend the remainder, because Thrasher Engineering has filed a notice of substantial completion to the Public Service Commission. The PSD has 60 days after the notice is filed to receive approval and spend any remaining funds, or the money will automatically revert to the IJDC.
Smith assures the board that he will work with Thrasher and the IJDC to prevent the automatic reversion.
“We need to make certain that that automatic trip doesn’t happen on this project,” he said. “We’ve had to go back to the Infrastructure Council for other projects and fight like cats and dogs to get them not to grab money, because we weren’t finished.”
The PSD plans to use the leftover money to buy security fencing for the Durbin water plant and Bartow water tank; touch-read water meters and a back-up generator for the water plant. The board unanimously approved a project drawdown payment of $60,225, which included $12,228 to Region IV for administrative services.
During review of the monthly bills, board chairman Tom Shipley informed the board that environmental attorney Allyn Turner had overcharged the PSD by about $2,500, but had corrected the mistake. Board member Amon Tracey says he doesn’t understand how the billing mistake happened.
“I don’t understand what that they would charge $7,000 to start with and then chop it down and down and down.”
Shipley says the lawyer blamed the mistake on a secretary.
“They had coded a certain amount of work to not be charged or charged as much, in other words, giving us a discount,” he said. “When the secretary made up the bill for the next month, that code wasn’t processed properly and those were charged.”
Tracey tells Shipley it’s a good thing the board caught the mistake.
“You know, we could have easily just went ahead and paid the bill,” he said.
“Well, we didn’t,” Shipley responded.
“I know we didn’t but just as easily, we could have and it would have been so unfair, Tracey said.”
“Well, I think mistakes are made,” said Shipley.
The board approved payment of the bills, with the exception of a $1,440 invoice from Waste Water Management, Inc., which the board wants to verify.
The board approved the monthly financial statement, which indicated a $47,764 deficit for the sewer utility and a $1,778 surplus for the water utility.
The PSD board voted unanimously to amend an agreement with CPA firm Spencer and Associates. The CPA will complete annual audits and financial statements for 2010 and 2011, no later than December 27.
In other business, the PSD board directed board attorney Chris Negley to re-draft a sewage hauling agreement, for negotiation with Snowshoe Mountain resort.
The next regular meeting of the Pocahontas PSD is scheduled for December 27 at 7 p.m., location to be announced.