Corps of Engineers Holding Hearing on Barge Facility; Enterprise Fund Loses Half a Million

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – Hades did not freeze over.

The Corps of Engineers though has slated a public hearing on the proposed barge facility in Westmorland. In addition to residents, Huntington Sanitary Board executive director, Loretta Covington, revealed the mooring base would cost the city millions.

“We have an outfall that goes into the river and it is in danger of collapsing. We have a mixing zone. If the barges were to get on top of this, we would have to put in  a diffuser which can cost several million dollars. If we did not do that, we would be in violation of our permit,” Covington said.

Ed Romans, who’s in charge of the Waste Treatment Plant, said that the DEP/EPA had become more stringent on water requirements. The barges would go in a space that is now used within 30 to 40 feet of the shoreline for “mixing” which disperses some of the waste.

In addition, during the Finance Committee Meeting, Wednesday, June 22, approval has been given for acquisition of the former U.S. Navy Reserve building. The GSA agreed to several revisions on the “gift” of the property to the city/Sanitary Board.

The committee also examined the enterprise trash / sanitation fund which according to the spreadsheets will lose about $500,000 in fiscal 2010-2011.

“How does an enterprise fund lose money,” asked Jim Insco?

Discussion suggested that the operation may be overstaffed and not handled as efficiently as possible.

Steve Williams requested that Brandi Jacobs-Jones, director of finance and administration, along with Deron Runyon, finance director, put together a preliminary proposal by July 28 for cutting costs and improving collections.

Upon learning that this fiscal 20% of the accounts have no payments, Nate Reynolds tongue in cheekly suggested, " Can we put I do not pay my refuse signs up' in people's yards?"

All questioned that 30% of the department appears to be “off” on personal or sick leave on a  daily basis. Insco and Williams both conceded that the six sanitation routes and a smaller seventh route could run with about 27 people, yet the City has 37 on the payroll.

Randolph suggested that a combination of cuts and realigning work assignments may be able to head off a potential fee increase.

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