Kingwood Council discusses election changes

KINGWOOD — Kingwood is moving forward on aligning city elections with those held by the county.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, first reading was approved unanimously on changing the city’s legislative enactment (similar to a charter) to make the change. The objective is to save money — more than $5,000 per election, the mayor has estimated — by using county voting machines and poll workers.

Council agreed in March that the next council will be elected to three-year terms. After that, the terms will revert to the current two years, unless a future council takes other action.

Public hearing set for PSD 2 takeover

Council also discussed the city’s upcoming takeover of Public Service District No. 2 (PSD 2). Kingwood has been managing the system since 2015, when a tentative merger agreement was approved.

A public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. July 9 at council chambers to hear public input on the plan. After the hearing, PSD 2, the water board and council must approve the final merger.

The permanent merger was delayed until PSD 2 finished an extension project it had under way.

The merger will double the number of customers for Kingwood Water Works. Kingwood has 2,299 customers and the PSD, 3,011.

City attorney Sheila Williams said in 2012 PSD 2 owed Kingwood about $192,000 for water it purchased from the town. In three years, it had paid the debt down to

$165,000, so another payment schedule was set up.

Then the district’s clerk died. The records were not computerized and the meters weren’t being read, Williams said. Public Service District 1 offered office space to PSD 2, but that didn’t work out.

At that point Kingwood took over management. The original debt is about $10,000 but another $150,000 debt was accumulated for the work Kingwood Water Works has done.

At the time of the takeover, PSD 2 lines were leaking $5,000 of water a month, Mayor Jean Guillot said. Some meters weren’t working, others ran backwards, and some were underwater.

Council reappointed Bob DeRiggi and Perry Barlow to the water board. Recorder Bill Robertson said post-merger he’d like to see the former PSD customers represented on the board. Guillot agreed.

Also Tuesday:

  • Council agreed to have legal counsel look at rights-of-way in the Frank and Cord streets area. Earlier this month, a resident said storm water running from Joy Street is damaging private properties.
  • Robertson thanked all those who worked on the Preston County Bicentennial planning and implementation.
  • Council referred a proposed amendment of the fencing ordinance to the board of zoning appeals for its opinion. Two weeks ago, council voted against approving the amendment, saying it is too complicated to understand.
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