Charles Town City Council Should Table Vote on $16 Million Sewer Bond Backed by Faulty Projections, Irregular Accounting, and Wrong Data Provided to Regulators
CHARLES TOWN. Monday night, the City Council may consider a $16 million bond ordinance to fund a Charles Town Utility Board (CTUB) sewer plan built on faulty projections, shady budget overruns, and a permit that gave incorrect information to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. All for the end purpose to industrialize the land around North Jefferson Elementary School.
There are a number of critical questions that still remain unresolved, and Charles Town may even violate open meetings laws if it rushes to vote tomorrow. Instead, the Council should table this vote until July, when the City Council can have all of the information needed to make an informed decision.
CTUB’s current projections are based on false assumptions. They say the sewer bond will be repaid in part by developing a 300 acre property on Route 9 that is in the farmland forever protection program. CTUB refuses to update this faulty projection, which cheats state taxpayers who expect to be repaid from this revenue.
CTUB’s sewer line also connects to 226 acres of county land next to Rockwool, called the “Miller Property”, that is currently zoned rural, enabling a new industrial use that violates the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan. Why is CTUB building a giant sewer connection to rural land?
Additionally, the $16 million sewer bond would repay the $1 million Ranson secretly spent for Rockwool as part of“Project Shuttle”. Ranson misled Charles Town when it promised no debt in the sewer merger with Charles Town. Ranson’s $1 million in unsecured spending may violate state law. When Ranson City Manger Andy Blake raised questions about spending this money , IJDC Vice Chairman and former JCDA Executive Director, John Reisenweber emailed, “The Auditor is a good friend. I can call him.”
Finally, CTUB is telling the WV Department of Environmental Protection that Rockwool’s sewer flows will be 14,900 gallons per day. Yet, CTUB’s own engineering and Rockwool’s official communications put the actual Phase I amount at 40,000 to 46,800 gallons per day. CTUB is lying to the DEP in order to avoid a more rigorous environmental permitting process. That’s dishonest and puts CTUB ratepayers and our environment at risk.
Jefferson County Vision Board Member Krista Guido said, “City Council has been misled and given bad information throughout this entire process. Surely the Council will not reward CTUB’s behavior by funding this plan at this time.
“Monday night, the Charles Town City Council should table the vote and commit to three actions.1. Investigate Ranson’s $1 million in spending. Was it lawful and appropriate? 2. Demand CTUB use accurate sewer projections based on current zoning, and eliminate the part of the project that violates the Comprehensive Plan. 3. Require that CTUB submit an accurate permit application to the WVDEP for Rockwool’s Phase I waste flows. Jefferson County is watching and urging a vote to TABLE.”