The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News

Latest News

May 22, 2013

Kessler says stormwater runoff fee is a hardship

A former West Virginia legislator Tuesday decried the stormwater runoff fee imposed on some residents as unfair and uneven, warning that it is hurting businesses and individuals alike.

Mel Kessler, who once served in the House of Delegates, told the Raleigh County Commission that a full accounting of the fee process is in order.

A controversy erupted two weeks ago after a federal judge, ruling in a Virginia case, held that the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority.

While Beckley City Attorney Bill File held that the decision had nothing to do with stormwater fees themselves, the ruling certainly focused attention on them locally.

Before it went out of business, Kessler said The Fashion Bug was shelling out $713.15 a month in stormwater fees, while Raleigh Mall turned in $1,441.68 monthly.

“People think that they’re not paying this because they’re lucky enough not to be in the Beckley area, and the 20-mile radius, but you’re paying it,” the former legislator said.

“The board of education down here is paying $1,341.20 a month. And that’s just an indication.”

Kessler said one aspect of the fees that bothered him was that some business owners appear to be avoiding the fee.

One businessman told him he wasn’t paying on a vacant lot, and that if the fees were fully enforced, the city would get $5 million, instead of the current $1 million, Kessler told the commission.

“That’s the way it is,” Kessler said.

“The common worker out here who is heating their food in a crock pot and leaving it on the pilot light are having to come up with this monthly fee. I’m sorry, but that sticks in my craw. People say I’m a little radical over this. Yes, I am.”

Kessler cited a law that says failure to pay can result in being hauled into court, paying a penalty or having one’s water shut off.

“I didn’t elect to do any of these,” he said, “but after 64 years, they put an adverse claim on my credit and caused my insurance to go up. Am I ticked off over it? Yes, I am. And I’m not the only person they’ve done it to.”

Kessler said his credit standing was restored but the experience left him with a bad feeling.

Quoting the Constitution, he said municipal taxes can be levied but must be done so uniformly, but this isn’t the case in Beckley.

Commission President Dave Tolliver said he personally hears two to three complaints monthly about the stormwater runoff fee from people residing outside Beckley, wondering why they are compelled to pay it.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. “Why you pay and there are no benefits from it.

“I don’t know how they come up with a fee that they charge people living outside the city.”

Tolliver said he was at a loss to suggest anything that would alleviate the situation for non-Beckleyans.

“If you don’t pay it, they can cut the water off or put a lien on your property,” he said.

“What the solution is, I don’t know.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output. It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Justice mines have violations in 5 states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

    July 31, 2014

  • VA Greenbrier clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    July 31, 2014

  • prezarrested.jpg Protesters arrested at UMWA Rally in Pittsburgh

    After marching from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to the William S. Moorehead Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, around 15 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) leaders were arrested.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Mercer shooting sends one to hospital

     One person has been shot following an apparent altercation in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    July 31, 2014

  • UMWA1.jpg More than 5,000 protesting new EPA rules at rally

    Today, 73 buses will bring miners and UMW members to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a labor rally and march through downtown Pittsburgh.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Kroger restricts pseudoephedrine sales in state

    Supermarket chain Kroger is tightening monthly purchase limits of cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine at its West Virginia stores.

    July 31, 2014

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander. Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoys."

    July 31, 2014

  • legion American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers? Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo