Huntington Sanitary Board Hires Security at Payment Window

Updated 1 year ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Huntington Sanitary Board Hires Security at Payment Window

Confirming a report last week by HNN, the Huntington Sanitary Board has hired an off duty police officer at their 555 7th Avenue office due to irate customers spitting at and kicking bullet proof g

lass. The decision occurred during a Tuesday morning June 27 Water Quality Board meeting.

Wes Leek, director , who replaced Lou Akers , told the threats stem from customers irate about their billings and water shutoffs.

Huntington City Council received one report from a customer that an employee uttered insensitive remarks at a customer. Some customers have irately complained on social media. Susan Small, communications director for the PSC,  responded to an HNN inquiry Wednesday, June 21 asking that concerned customers call the Utility Complaint number 1-800-642-8544. "This would be an informal process," she said.

Leek indicated that past due warning  letters had been sent on June 9 to about 2,000 customers. The board makes two phone calls prior to cutoff, according to Leek.

However, customers report these are "robo" calls and to reach a live person to discuss their situation the on hold time can be more than an hour. Lines have been reported into the street near the office too.

One social media response to the Herald Dispatch story boldly stated about consumer resistance :

"It's called a revelation. when the people are being neglected by their leaders, people will rebel. until our leaders realize we the people are the rulers it will escalate our country is infested with corrupt politicians embezzling and setting their buddies up to make more money off the people for kick backs. This is how the French revolution started and it will escalate ... "  (Ed. Note: Boston Tea Party?)

Steve Davis, chairman of Concerned Citizens and former Republican Mayoral Candidate, said that ill will has been sowed with citizens due to incorrect billing methods. He continued: 

"If they would actually get the billing correct and send out a letter to all customers they they were in fact changing the billing in advance they could have avoided some of the frustration. This is a poorly run operation. They have real issues. No one should be subject to violence and I am not condoning those actions those causing harm or damage should be arrested. however they have created a lot of ill will with the citizens."

Stephanie Heck complained to council and Mayor Williams. No action was taken.

"Before I was harassed, I head a woman behind the counter talk to an [African American] woman as if she was a dog, " Heck said.

The HSB sends lists on Fridays to WV American Water stating which customers are to have water cutoff until payment of their fees.

Leek indicated that customers must be given 30 days to pay prior to shut off, as per WV Pubic Service Commission regulations. The HSB web site states:

According to documents obtained from the WV Public Service Commission , a form may be returned to HSB (and its other entities) disputing or asking for extensions for payment or to pay in installments.

Despite the options stated by the WV Public Service Commission, the HSB website does not illustrate discretion on water turn offs:

"The Huntington Sanitary Board is legally required to terminate any account that is 30 days past due."

SEE: Public Service Commission will Receive informal HSB complaints:

West Virginia American Water until 2013 billed sewer fees with water invoices. At that time, the city had a 98% collection rate. Mayor Steve William, chair of the HSB , Water Quality and Stormwater Boards, acknowledged that past due aging has increased since WVAW stopped billing.

Sherry Wilkins, stormwater director and a former employee of the WV Division of Environmental Protection, indicated that about $900,000 is 60 or more days past due on stormwater bills. 




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