ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — Elkins City Council met Thursday evening and during its regularly scheduled meeting discussed an ordinance concerning water rates.

The council held the first of two readings of an ordinance to amend and reenact rates, rules, and regulations for furnishing water service in Elkins and within the county by increasing the rates charged. This is the first of two readings of the ordinance to increase the rates charged for public water. According to city officials, if passed residents could bear the cost of a 32% rate increase.

“Our water department is in dire straits right now, the price of our chemicals, the pipes, our fittings, and everything have really gone through the roof. We have done our due diligence in every way to try and not make this happen, the rate increase because the economy is so unstable right now,” said Jerry Marco, Mayor of the City of Elkins.

Elkins water rate increase proposed.

City officials said they have not had an increase in the water rate since 2017 and that increased costs have exceeded revenues for the Elkins Water Board.

“It is less than $0.50 a day is what the rate come down to, I mean, 32% sounds like an awful lot but whenever you crunch the numbers and I am a numbers guy, it comes down to less than $0.50 a day,” Marco said. “And when you look at the fact that we haven’t had an increase in five years, I mean, I hate it, my heart breaks to do this, it really does, I feel bad for people that are on a fixed income because we have this and the gas company just announced an increase as well.”

The City of Elkins is hoping to put something in place where they have increased in the future the amount will be smaller for the customers.

“We have a bond payment that is due today that is $55,000 dollars. Based on a meeting that I had yesterday that I had with the water board that left us $3,000 in our account,” Marco said. “We have another draft coming out on the ninth of this month for $72,000. These are bonds that have to be paid, those are our top priorities. And the other result is that we don’t pay our bonds and we go bankrupt and the state comes in sells us to a private company and then your rates really go up.”

The mayor said that he had contacted Charleston to see if they could use any of the American Rescue Plan Act funds to use as a stipend to offset some of the increases for the citizens and have not heard back as of yet. The next Elkins City Council meeting will be Thursday, September 5, where the council will hold a second and final reading of the ordinance to approve the water rate increase.