Charles Town leaders will soon have to decide on how to finance the sewer line to the former Jefferson Orchards site where Rockwool plans to build its second U.S. factory.
If Charles Town issues a bond to finance the construction of the sewer line, it will do see with zero-interest financing from the state of West Virginia.
If the city rejects that plan in an attempt to mollify those in the ToxicRockwool movement, the sewer line still will be put in – but the cost will be higher, an increase that will be borne by all the ratepayers in the system.
At the Charles Town City Council on Oct. 15, representatives from the Charles Town Utility Board clearly laid out the reality that CTUB cannot legally deny service to Rockwool.
Many in our community do not want Rockwool in Jefferson County. More than six months passed between November of last year, when local leaders and Rockwool officials announced the selection of the Ranson site for a stonewool manufacturing site, and July when opposition suddenly erupted – clearly many in the movement were not paying attention to local news at all – but the opposition is paying attention now, and they are vocal and committed to finding any way possible to keep Rockwool from opening its plant as scheduled in 2020.
But despite the uproar, leaders in Charles Town should not ignore CTUB’s advice and vote against the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council’s offer of zero-interest financing.
If the city rejects the money, it will remain on the hook to construct the sewer line – just without being able to offset the anticipated operation and maintenance expenses of some $1.66 million against sewer revenues.
Should Rockwool have to finance the sewer line in another way, the city will not get to offset operation and maintenance costs and would end up making up for those costs by charging higher rates to Rockwool and every other customer. City leaders who have been won over by the anti-Rockwool arguments made by Jefferson County Vision and others are, of course, free to oppose the factory but voting against a legally mandated infrastructure project could bring a consequence no one wants – higher sewer rates for households here for decades to come. We urge those in positions of power to exercise great care in this decision.