LOGAN — The Logan County Commission gave $25,000 in emergency funding to the Buffalo Creek Public Service District on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Don Morgan, general manager of the Buffalo Creek PSD, approached the commission to request the funding at the Feb. 3 regular meeting. Morgan, along with Logan County Administrator Rocky Adkins, requested the money immediately due to what they described as an urgent situation, but the commission was unable to legally take any action that day because it was not an agenda item.
Morgan, who took the position as general manager on Jan. 1, first approached the commission on Jan. 24 regarding outstanding debts the PSD has of up to $60,000. The PSD has implemented a rate increase on customers as a corrective measure, but those funds won’t be available until March.
The $25,000 from the commission will be used to purchase the proper water treatment materials until the new funds come in. According to Adkins, the Buffalo Creek PSD had been cut off from purchasing those supplies as of Feb. 1.
“That doesn’t mean they don’t have product today, but that product is going to run out in a few days, and they need to get some kind of agreement to keep operating,” Adkins said.
The supplies are from C.I. Thornburg Company, which provides products for water and wastewater treatment. According to a letter from C.I. Thornburg, the Buffalo Creek PSD will have a past due balance of $18,000 remaining after the $25,000 from the commission.
Morgan said he inherited the PSD’s financial woes, which are largely from customers not paying their bills. He added that those customers cannot be cut off because instead of using public water, they are on mine water supply.
“There’s probably 40 to 50 homes that are on it,” Morgan said. “You can’t cut their water off. They’re on mine water supply, and they just refuse to pay. There’s really going to be no attempt to plug anybody’s sewer line off … I’ve got a list of them up here — it’s probably about $47,000 right here. There’s nothing you can do about that. We’ve put liens on the property, and there’s just no alternative.”
Morgan said some haven’t paid since 1990.
“I absolutely will not pump one gallon of water through either one of those treatment plants if it’s not chlorinated or properly treated,” Morgan said. “I absolutely will not do that.”
Commissioner Danny Ellis said the county commission should typically be considered as a last resort for these types of situations. Both Morgan and Adkins said they had not explored other options of assistance, such as the Governor’s Office, due to the urgency of the matter.
“The Governor’s Office is really slow and I felt, with time constraints, that this is the best shot we have,” Morgan said.
Commission counsel Stephanie Abraham asked Morgan how he knows the Governor’s Office is slow if he didn’t apply. He said that he knew from applying with them at his previous job.
Ultimately, the commissioners unanimously approved giving the $25,000. Ellis urged Morgan to address future issues in a more timely manner so they do not resurface. Morgan said the $25,000, along with the rate increase, will be enough to keep the PSD providing clean water to its customers.