Middlebourne passes second step for annexation
At Monday night’s meeting of Middlebourne Council, Union Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Aiken returned to council with follow-up questions regarding the annexation of the Long Reach Federal Credit Union property into the city.
First, he wanted to know what motivation the credit union had for wanting the annexation.
Mayor Charlie Delauder stated that once the property becomes vacant and is annexed into town, the tax dollars would be derived over by town.
“I understand it benefits the town,” Aiken noted, “but what is the credit union’s motivation for requesting that.”
Delauder stated that the credit union wanted to have the property in the town, so that “once they move in the town, they are here.”
“Is there financial benefit to be gained by the credit union for moving into town?” Tim asked.
“Probably,” Delauder noted, stating there would be property tax but also possibly surplus vehicles “and things of that nature that are taxed by the county.”
“Is there benefit to the credit union . . . financial benefit?” Aiken questioned again, stating he did not understand the motivation of the credit union to move into town.
“They want to move it into town, so we could get tax dollars from it,” answered the mayor.
“So they are doing it for the benefit of the town?” Tim asked.
“That’s correct,” Delauder noted.
“That’s what was stated by the credit union?” Aiken asked. “That was their reasoning?”
“That’s what I was led to believe,” Delauder noted, adding, “I wasn’t in that particular part of the meeting.” Delauder is on the LRFCU board of directors.
“I think it behooves council to see that all cards are on the table,” Aiken stated. “Everything needs to be . . . full disclosure. If there is a potential financial benefit to be gained by the credit union, I think there is a conflict of interest.”
“I can’t think of any,” Delauder stated.
Aiken noted that Delauder had said at the previous meeting that the benefit to the town was “approximately a couple thousand of dollars.”
“If there is a financial benefit to be gained by the credit union that is out of proportion to that . . .” Aiken began.
“I can’t imagine what it would be,” Delauder stated.
“There will be papers drawn up by a lawyer, correct?” Council member Vera Henthorn inquired.
Delauder stated there would be. He stated the next step would be the county commission. “Remember we took it to them, with annexation with election. The one freeholder in the area had agreed to it, and the county commission didn’t want to have a hearing on it, so we asked Gary (Middlebourne’s City Attorney, Gary Rymer) if we could do it another way, so that’s why we did it this way, annexation without election, because of one freeholder in the area.”
“Are you thinking of any benefits the credit union would have?” Council member Sue Pelikan asked of Aiken.
“I don’t know,” Aiken stated. “It doesn’t take a whole lot of economic sense to do something like this . . . If they still own the property while trying to market it, they would have to pay extra tax on it.”
“I’m sure they were aware of it when they requested it,” Delauder noted.
“From an economic standpoint, it doesn’t really make sense . . . That’s why I’m asking the questions,” Aiken stated.
“That’s probably a question that needs to be asked to them,” Pelikan noted.
“I think there needs to be full transparency,” Aiken stated. “You know, if you look at it on its face, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
“Well in 1993, they were going to annex all of that property out there into town,” Delauder noted, adding that it was not taken care of at that time because a county commissioner objected to it.
“Is there a reason council wouldn’t want to do that?” Aiken asked.
“I kind of felt if someone asked us . . . If no one asked us, I wouldn’t want to step out and presume to annex someone into town if they didn’t wish to be,” said Delauder.
Delauder noted that the credit union would also now have protection of Middlebourne’s police force, whenever the police force is available.
“It may benefit the credit union insurance-wise, because of police protection,” Rymer noted, adding that he wouldn’t know for sure, not being privy to the credit union’s insurance.
Aiken asked if the town’s offices would be moved out there; Delauder stated they would not be.
Council approved the second reading of the annexation of the credit union property into the Town of Middlebourne. A third reading is necessary before it can be final. It is anticipated that it will take place at the next regular council meeting on Feb. 9.
Under new business at the town council meeting, Delauder requested that council approve of an Amendment to Section 8-44 of the town’s municipal code.
At the previous council meeting, Aiken stated he had noticed that the town approved opening an account with the credit union. He stated that section 8-44 of the town’s charter required that the town’s banking accounts be established with an institution that has FDIC insurance. Delauder had noted the account is a clearing account, as it would hold a grant of $30,000 and then would be paid out to the engineering account. Delauder stated that the credit union is insured by UCAA, which “is the same as FDIC.”
At Monday night’s meeting, Delauder stated that when getting the account, he looked at Section 8-41, which states that “the governing body of this municipality shall have plenary power and authority to establish a special account for the deposit of funds received from and granted by the United States of America or the State of West Virginia and shall provide for the expenditure and appropriation of such funds . . .” Delauder noted that this code did not mention that there needs to be insurance.
Delauder said 8-44 Section C of the Municipal Code of Ordinances only mentions savings account, in that it states: “Interest bearing savings accounts which are insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation or a saving and loan association insured by the federal saving and loan insurance corporation, building and loan association which are insured by the federal savings and loan corporation. Provided: that the amount invested is not more than would be insured unless the banking institution or savings and loan association would place a bond on the money, the security of the bonds is to be determined by the city treasurer or recorder.”
Delauder proposed that the amendment read as follows: “All accounts will be deposited into institutions that are insured through a program regulated by the federal government. Provided: that the amount invested is not more than would be insured unless the banking institution or savings and loan association would place a bond on the money, the security of the bonds is to be determined by the city treasurer or recorder.”
Council approved of the first reading of the amendment to Section 8-44 Municipal Code.
In other matters, as part of his Mayor’s Report, Delauder noted that there has been a surveyor, surveying the town, “to do the mapping for new water lines.” Delauder offered it is a sign of good progress. “We do have the USDA agreement, the project application, and service agreement. That’s coming up on the agenda, so we are moving along.” Delauder stated that he anticipated breaking ground on the project in the next year and a half.
Delauder stated there had been a meeting with Robert Hebb of Thrasher Engineering to discuss water line replacement and plant upgrades. He said this meeting was necessary for Thrasher to be able to provide the preliminary engineering report. Under new business, council did approve to pay Thrasher Engineering from grant funds.
Furthermore, Delauder stated he had completed the inspection of the water tanks and submitted it to the Department of Environmental Protection.
“I am thankful that they allowed the owners of tanks to inspect them. If we had to have an engineer inspect them, it would have been more than $25,000 to accomplish this task,” said Delauder.
Council agreed to enter into a service agreement with the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council in that the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council will serve as a grant administrator for the USDA loan for the town’s water project.
Council also approved of the submission of the water project application to the USDA.
Delauder stated there would be approximately 10,000 feet of waterline replaced, mud cleaned out of the water treatment tank, and another storage tank added on the hill above the graveyard in Middlebourne. Delauder stated both tanks would be hooked together. Once the new tank is put in, he noted, the other will be taken out of service for upgrades. Delauder stated with two tanks, it would give the town four to five days without having to pump water, in case there is a spill in the creek or a flood.
One more test well will still be drilled across the creek, said the mayor. “Hopefully we find something over there,” noted Delauder. “If we hit a good flow of water, we may drill a second well.” If water is found, he said the town would not need to spend money to upgrade the water plant.
In other council matters, the council approved the purchase of additional Christmas decorations for the poles on Main Street. The town would purchase 11 lighted snowflakes for $319 each. Delauder noted this is a discounted price. The purchase will be made when funds become available. If funds are not available during the time of discount pricing, Delauder stated they would be purchased later.
In his mayor’s report, Delauder stated that new batteries have been purchased for the town’s dump truck and cinder spreader. Snow plowing and spreading cinders has begun.
Furthermore, Delauder stated that homeowners have had water lines freezing already. All of the frozen lines have been on the home owners’ side of the lines, he noted.
Delauder has met with Thom Hinton of WVHOTSPOTS concerning Wifi for downtown. An antenna will be mounted in town and will broadcast to small receivers on Main Street. Anyone with a smart phone will be able to connect to free Wifi on Main Street. The receivers are good only to 1,500 feet. There is no cost to the town for this service, as free Wifi Hotspot signs will be placed at the entrances to the town.
Council also discussed the upcoming election, to be held June 9. Council will be holding a nominating convention Jan. 15.