Official Statement from the Town of Romney
Last week, the Town of Romney filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia regarding the plans of Central Hampshire Public Service District (CHPSD) for an independent water source in central Hampshire County. The underlying issue in the complaint is a concern that the installation of an independent CHPSD water source will lead to competition with the Town of Romney for water sales, rather than to build a water reserve that would be used only in the event of a catastrophe.
In 1998, the Town of Romney undertook a debt service on bonds issued to construct a water treatment plant which went into service in 2000. Since then, the Town of Romney has provided water to the CHPSD for resale and relied on the revenue from such CHPSD water sales to pay a portion of its debt obligations for the 1998 plant. The CHPSD’s obligation to purchase water from the Town of Romney was most recently updated in a ten-year contract signed in 2015.
When the Town learned of the CHPSD’s funding request to build an independent water source in central Hampshire County, the Town consulted with its legal representation and was advised to seek intervention from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.
In the background of this issue is a separate, but related and ongoing issue which has caused serious economic strain for the Town of Romney and its residents. When the Town of Romney took on a debt service to update its wastewater treatment plant in 2015, it relied upon the CHPSD’s commitments to purchase certain amounts of sewer services to determine the size of the proposed facility and to ensure the debt obligation could be met. Unfortunately, the sewer usage commitments made by CHPSD have consistently not been met, forcing the Town of Romney to make up for the lost income by raising rates to meet its debt service obligations.
The financial strain caused by the unpurchased sewer services has compelled the Town to be more proactive in the prevention of additional loss from other services, such as the loss that would occur should the CHPSD fail to honor its current water purchase obligations.
The Town’s water and wastewater treatment services have long been and should continue to be community assets; used by the citizens of Hampshire County including those that live in and outside the Romney town limits. Viewing and using the utilities in this way not only provides for the maintenance and development of existing services, but it also allows the CHPSD to expand its efforts out into areas of the county that are not already served.
The Town of Romney is in no way opposed to additional water infrastructure in Hampshire County, but only seeks to ensure that CHPSD’s obligations to the people of Romney are met. Further, it is the Town of Romney’s position that we are stronger as a community when we work together, rather than in opposition to one another. The Town sincerely hopes that this issue can be resolved quickly through an agreement that benefits all of Hampshire County’s residents (including those that live in Romney), increases and grows our critical infrastructure capacity, and begins a new period of cooperation between the Town of Romney and CHPSD.
Welcome to the Town of Romney, West Virginia, where our people are always ready with a smile, a helping hand, and a genuine desire to make our town a great place to live, visit and invest in the future. Romney is West Virginia’s first town, and our elected leaders and townspeople work every day to grow, create, and innovate while respecting over two centuries of tradition.