Elkins looking ahead to numerous projects

Elkins Mayor Duke Talbott said 2012 was a productive and successful year for the city and that the trend will continue in the new year. Talbott said restructuring of the government and working together made for a successful year.

“I am real pleased with how we have created a team,” Talbott said. “We have a great group of administrative officers. They work together, with council and with the mayor. We build consensus.”

In 2012, the city undertook a major restructuring that included cross training for employees and remodeling of the first floor of City Hall.

“The restructuring is complete,” he said. “We made it into a one-stop shop. The treasurer’s office is one big room and everyone has been cross trained.”

The work at city hall included not only the restructuring, but also the City Hall Energy Efficiency Project. He said the project included putting in new efficient storm windows and renovations to the exterior grounds.

Talbott said the restructuring also assisted the city in the process of obtaining a purchasing card that is helping the city save money. He explained the card is used for city purchases and has created a greater efficiency.

“We get a rebate on all city purchases,” he said. “It eliminated unnecessary paperwork.”

Talbott said one of the biggest successes of the year was obtaining new financing for the $30 million water treatment plant and distribution system upgrades. The mayor said the move from the USDA stimulus funding will save the city and its residents money.

“As far as dollars go, getting better terms with the water project funding will save the customers $14 million,” Talbott said. “We completed part of it (the project). The Randolph Avenue project was completed and paid for by that financing.”

Talbott said the design of the water plant was also completed this year.

The mayor also highlighted the city police department’s purchase and training of a passive drug dog as a major accomplishment.

“I am real pleased we were able to bring that to fruition to help continue the battle against drugs,” Talbott said.

The mayor also has lofty goals for the upcoming year including the continuing of the water plant project and the implementation of the city’s long term control plan (LTCP) for separating the city’s storm and sanitary sewers. He said funding for the project was negotiated in 2012 and construction should begin this year.

“We will turn dirt on the water plant this year,” Talbott said. “It will be up to the engineers where they start. The next step we face is regulatory approval.”

Talbott said the LTCP is going to be a very big project. He said some of the work had already been completed with stimulus money the city received and the rest of the project must be completed to meet the requirements of a Consent Decree with the EPA. The city was facing fines for violations of the Clean Water Act that were not addressed.

“It is going to help enormously,” Talbott said. “There could very well be a large amount of construction going on this year. We will do our best to keep people informed.”

He said the city hopes to expand their website and use other social media to include more resources. One of the items Talbott wants to see online is the Elkins City Code. He said the city began a recodification effort in 2012 and it should be completed this year.

“We are going to get the city code online,” he said. “It is a matter of public record and people should have access to it.”

Talbott said he also hopes to evaluate city owned property on 11th Street, where the old city garage is located, and the parking lot behind City Hall. He said the city wants to get the old city garage torn down and have the property sold at public auction.

He said the city will also review options for the parking lot.

“We want to get them (the properties) back on the tax rolls,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense for any government to keep property they do not need.”