St. Clairsville electric rates going up

ST. CLAIRSVILLE The city will see an increase in electric services rates this fall.

During Monday’s council meeting, Service Director Dennis Bigler reported that the city last raised its base power rate in the mid-1990s. He pointed out issues related to the city’s base cost, including equipment, labor, fuel, material, health insurance and other expenses.

A rate study returned a recommendation of a rate increase of 15 percent. The change will be made in a one-step increase and proceed in three readings. It will go into effect mid-September, 30 days after the second meeting in August. Residents will begin to see the increase in October.

Bigler said this would constitute a net 15-percent increase, not one across the board.

Bigler noted that mid-demand commercial customers will see the greatest increase, with residential rates the least impacted. In-home businesses will see a rate increase, but will be re-classified to a lower rate.

“It creates a truer picture for small-scale home occupations,” he said.

He also noted the city’s rate will remain low in comparison with competitors, while keeping the electric system viable.

Mayor Robert Vincenzo pointed out the issue of reliability and the need to maintain the electric system in the face of storm damage and other wear and tear.

Bigler also said the city would create a large power rate for the first time.

In other matters, Bigler reported that the law director has reviewed and approved the proposed agreement with Cooper Power System for the $1,084,000 project to upgrade the meter reading system to an automated one.

Council also gave a voice vote approving extending the AEP contract one year through 2018 at a slightly reduced price.

In addition, Vincenzo reported attending a meeting in Columbus regarding ongoing plans for changes to the state municipal income tax. The House will be back in session in September, and the bill will likely see action. Municipalities are still concerned about the possible loss of income the bill could create.

He added that in two weeks representatives from the Regional Income Tax Agency will be in St. Clairsville and working with city officials to streamline their system of reporting and keeping track of outside workers.

Zoning Administrator Tom Murphy reported on meetings with ODOT regarding plans for 2015 paving of Routes 40 and 9 and wished to know if the city would prefer work take place during the day, at night, or both. Murphy added that the city could regulate the hours.

Consensus among council and the police chief was working at night would mean increased safety due to less traffic. Project time could also be reduced from an estimated seven weeks to four weeks depending on conditions. Hours would likely be 7 p.m.-7 a.m. nightly. A cost estimate has not yet been established.

Council adopted a storm water quality ordinance in accordance with the storm water management plan and EPA guidelines.

Council Member Frank Sabatino reported issues related to the fire district, noting that the vehicles are undergoing a 30-point check. The fire district has also received an EMS grant of $3,200, as well as a donation of $2,500 from Chesapeake Energy. The fire chief is obtaining estimates on updates to the central station.

DeFrank can be reached at