Jefferson County Vision, the newly formed watchdog group, is suing the Jefferson County Development Authority (JCDA) today in Circuit Court. The lawsuit is based on JCDA’s continuing failure to comply with West Virginia Law, the state constitution, and ethical guidelines.
Rockwool is permitted to be one of the largest toxic polluters in the state and is located next to Jefferson County schools. The JCDA served as the local ringleader in last year’s secret “Operation Shuttle” negotiations, which produced a range of multimillion dollar taxpayer giveaways to Rockwool and other insiders.
As part of the Rockwool deal, JCDA plans to issue a $7 million, 40 year bond and use the proceeds to construct, manage, and own a waterline extension to Jefferson Orchard and the surrounding area. The JCDA is giving Jefferson Utilities (JUI), a privately owned company, a no-bid service contract at a nominal rate of pay. At the end of the contract, the JCDA will give Jefferson Utilities millions of dollars of infrastructure for just one dollar.
When the Jefferson County Commission scheduled Jefferson Utilities to explain their role at the public meeting on Sept. 6, 2018, the company failed to appear.
The JCDA’s water bond is being rushed through under various “emergency” authorities that deny the public an opportunity to review and provide input on this deal. Most importantly, the JCDA has not followed the legal requirements imposed on all utilities by West Virginia law. Those requirements include a process of notice, hearings and disclosures intended to protect the public and allow for community input.
Leigh Smith of Jefferson County Vision commented, “We have filed a petition for injunctive relief to ask the court to force JCDA to comply with the law. We want to finally bring some transparency, regular order, and public input to the Rockwool deal. The JCDA is clearly becoming a water provider to Jefferson Orchard and nearby communities, and they must legally comply with the West Virginia laws that govern utility operators.”
We are now a non-partisan, non-profit organization called Jefferson County Vision that is working to protect and improve the quality of life in our community.