Water agency board gets ready for 2007 budget year
In preparation for the fiscal year beginning on Jan. 1, 2007, the board of directors for the Price River Water Improvement District is in the process of finalizing its budget before the end of 2006. At a board meeting on Oct. 17, the board answered two questions regarding the upcoming budget approval.
The first of these questions related to the upcoming public hearing regarding rate increases. On Nov. 14, the board will hear public comments regarding increases to water, sewer and sewage hauler rates.
In order to meet its financial obligations relating to certain bonds, the district must generate more revenue. Discussion regarding the rate increases has been part of the board's meetings since July, when a financial audit and recommendations from financial advisers indicated that the district needed to increase rates in order to generate the necessary revenue.
Two weeks ago, the board unanimously approved taking the matter to a public hearing. Last night, the board instructed district staff to use the proposed rates in preparing for next year's budget.
"If the rate increase doesn't pass, we can always work backwards," said board member Mike Dalpiaz as he made the motion to use the proposed rates.
The second question regarding the budget concerned employee raises and benefits.
Health insurance premiums will go up 0.7 percent according to information available from the district's insurance provider. That increase is small when compared to increases in recent years. District Manager Phil Palmer said that in recent years, insurance costs have gone up more than 15 percent, so this year's increase is small by comparison.
As far as employee raises are concerned, in previous years the board has tried to give a cost of living raise to employees across the board. Merit increases have been given to employees who were selected by their supervisors.
When it set the budget for fiscal year 2006, the board opted to give an increase to all employees and no merit increases were given. After discussion on Tuesday, the board will likely repeat the action in next year's budget.
"I think we need to look at a cost of living increase," said Dalpiaz. "But I think we need to stay away from merits."
In an unrelated matter, the board addressed concerns relating to the recent acquisition of the sewer fall-out line running from Helper to PRWID's sewer line. After reviewing the line, staff recommended that the line needs to be replaced and possibly relocated.
Assistant District Manager Jeff Richens said that portions of the line are in need of repair. Preliminary estimates to replace just the worst portions of the line indicate that materials alone will cost between $21,000 and $22,000. The other option presented by staff is to reroute the line.
Currently the sewer line starts at the west end of Birch Street and crosses a field, running southeast before meeting Spring Glen Road. Once it reaches the road, the line follows the route of the road for approximately one-quarter mile before heading southwest to the Price River, where the line joins the main PRWID line.
At one point, the line is very shallow at a depth of just four feet. That depth creates certain problems for possible development. In order to connect into the line, any new construction along the line would need to keep foundations and sewer lines no deeper than four feet.
Richens suggested bypassing the current route completely. From the west end of Birch Street, he said the line could be rerouted more directly to PRWID's main line. The rerouting would require installing approximately 2,600 feet of new line at a cost estimated between $27,000 and $28,000.
Part of the district's decision on how to proceed ultimately rests on the easements in place for the current line. Staying within the current easement is the simplest solution and measures can be taken to place the line at a lower depth as it is replaced.
However, the district has not received a description of the easements which exist along the line. Dalpiaz, who is mayor of Helper in addition to sitting on the PRWID board said that he had instructed Helper's attorney, Gene Strate, to provide those easements to the district. Dalpiaz said he would remind Strate to provide the necessary documents associated with the line transfer and the board instructed staff to follow up from their end to help speed up the process.
In a separate matter, the board addressed a request to acquire a water system owned and operated by the John Paul and Pinnacle water companies. The board instructed staff to review the line and the status of the water companies and report results back to the board. If the district takes over the water companies, there will be only two water companies left which purchase water from PRWID - the Spring Glen and Lessar water companies.
One of the conditions requested by the John Paul and Pinnacle water companies is to limit the number of water connections to the number approved by the county when the subdivisions in that area were approved.
Palmer said that from his standpoint, the district would be best served by honoring that request. District staff will review the condition of the infrastructure and report back to the board with recommendations before taking the board takes any further action.