According to documents presented to the Price River Water Improvement District board last week, the agency's 2004 budget will increase by $36,852 compared to the current year.
PRWID's total operating budget will exceed $6 million next year.
"Some of our fixed costs continue to go up constantly," pointed out district manager Phil Palmer at the board meeting. "It keeps eating us up year after year."
For 2003, the adopted budget was $6,158,096. Next year, the budget as approved by the board will total $6,194,948. But warnings about the possibilities of a rate increase for PRWID continue to circulate.
"I have been telling you the whole time I have been on the board - the system has been getting bigger and bigger, yet we have kept our maintenance budgets for it the same," said panel member Steve Rigby. "Someday, that's going to catch up with you."
Not only is the system getting bigger, but the regulations and requirements are becoming more complicated.
"I think that the regulations are going to catch up with us," commented PRWID water plant manager Ken Snook. "We'll need a lot of things to meet the new standards that are coming down."
"For instance, we need some- thing to start to take care of the organics in our water and the chlorine by-products," continued Snook. "We only have a couple of years before those regulations go into effect."
Some of the cost might be mitigated by going to funding agencies for grants and low cost loans, pointed out Palmer.
The board had few questions about the budget. Jeff Richens, assistant district manager, gave the board a complete breakdown on the budget as compared to last year's numbers.
One of the item that came under discussion was the money included in the budget for interior rehabilitation of the Four Mile and Kenilworth water tanks.
The district has budgeted $350,000 to complete the process at the tanks.
"When we have to do this, maybe we should look for grants to cover the cost," stated Rigby.
According to information from past meetings, the tanks are in poor shape and damage will increase the longer the district waits to sandblast and repaint the insides.
Following the discussion, the total PRWID budget was then broken down into categories.
The budget for administration maintenance and operations for next year is $587,550 and for capital projects is $17,000.
Included in the expenses are $3,000 to paint the administration building and $9,000 for a new HVAC system. Salaries in the category account for $322,500 of the budget.
The water department has a maintenance and operations budget of $1,2777,649.
Some of the equipment maintenance that falls into that category includes a chlorine vacuum register for $2,000, a lime feeder mixer for $1,200, a pressure washer for $1,500 and various improvements/replacements for equipment and small fixed assets.
Salaries in the water department account for $212,000 of the total budget.
The total capital projects budget is calculated at $1,428,825, with $1,300,000 earmarked for the Carbonville-East Wellington water system upgrades. The upgrades will bring five private water companies into compliance with state regulations and allow PRWID to absorb the lines into the district's system.
The maintenance department has a total budget of $1,038,075 to work with next year, with the largest single expenditure being the water tank rehabilitation that the board discussed earlier.
Of the total, $358,500 are listed as salaries in the maintenance department.
The fleet department will have a budget of $332,000, with a lease program for a backhoe costing $15,000.
Salaries account for $146,500 of the fleet department's total budget.
The fleet department also has a capital budget of $49,000, with $32,000 of that being used to purchase a new pickup truck.
The wastewater departments total budget is $1,782,122 with one of the bigger projects in the department being two digester mixer rebuilds which are budgeted for $8,000. Salaries in that department account for $235,000.
Capital projects in the wastewater department are budgeted for $436,040. The highest cost project is a chain and flight system in the north primary clarifier for $12,000.
The rest of the total budget is taken up with tort liability cost and debt service.
After the initial discussion and presentation, PRWID board member Keith Cox opened the public hearing on the matter.
No comments were heard from local residents in attendance at the meeting.
The board closed the public hearing and members passed the resolution to approve PRWID budget for next year.