WV-DEP Confirms Huntington Sanitary Board Change Order Approval

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – Several members of Huntington City Council recently questioned the purchase of equipment by the Huntington Sanitary Board. The money came from an “under-bid” for the Hal Greer Sewer Extension project.

Katheryn D. Emery , WV DEP Engineering Section Manager Clean Water SRF Program, confirmed to HNN that the agency did give approval for the purchases, except for a Dodge Caravan.

“The project was funded by the DEP’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and we have the authority to approve purchases with our funds,” stated Emery in an e-mail to HNN.

Ms. Emery told Covington in a Dec 14, 2009 letter designated under Hal Greer Blvd. Sewer Extension Miscellaneous Purchases that the Public Service Commission must weigh in.

As for items that are eligible for expenditure of the under-bid funds, Ms. Emery explained that it “depends on the needs of the system, how much money is available, and what is allowable by their bond ordinance and PSC approval.”

The Dec. 14, 2009, letter to Ms. Covington indicated that the PSC approval was necessary.

“In order to ensure that there are no problems in funding these items, the District must make sure the wording of the Bond Ordinance is liberal enough to allow these items to be funded and the PSD must contact the Public Service Commission to check to see if they have any concerns.”

However, the matter of the underbid and purchases did not come to the attention publically of Huntington City Council until brought forward at the Feb. 14, 2011 meeting. The item came in the context of whether Council had to agree to the purchase(s) as they were over $25,000. The Sanitary Board did not require a council vote for the change after the WV DEP and PSC agreed to the purchases.

Ms. Covington’s response to chairman Mark Bates indicated some items would not be purchased until after completion of the extension work and any additional expenditures would not be made until the project was “closer to completion.”