PUD discuss water system fee waiver
A fallen tree and financial matters occupied Wahkiakum PUD commissioners at their October 2 meeting.
A hemlock tree fell and blocked both lanes of traffic at Milepost 28 of SR 4 near Skamokawa on Monday afternoon.
“It didn’t break the wires, just took everything to the ground,” said Line Crew Foreman Shane Pfenniger. A motorist attempted to remove the tree. “He had no way of knowing if the line was live or not. He took a real chance,” warned Manager Dave Tramblie.
The commissioners approved two change orders and an additional expense for the electrical substation construction project on Jacobson Road in Rosedale. Two areas of the site require additional rock at a cost of $4369. Additionally, the access road to the site needs to be compacted and fortified with fine gravel at a cost of $3500 to $5000 before the transformer for the substation is delivered on October 9.
“These change orders and delivery delays are the only issues that have come up. I think we’re in pretty good shape,” said Tramblie.
The new substation is projected to be operational by the end of the year.
The commissioners discussed whether to extend the $3500 water system development fee waiver currently in place. It is set to expire December 31 of this year. Tramblie said there had been 7-8 new hookups on the Puget Island System (PIWS) this year and 8-9 new hookups for the Western Wahkiakum Water System (WWWS). Tramblie estimated that half of the new customers had sought water service because of the fee waiver.
Tramblie asked the commissioners to clarify if the waiver would be honored for new customers that request work estimates this year. The normal period for which an estimate is valid is 90 days, said Tramblie. If the deposit for the work is paid by December 31, the waiver would be honored regardless of whether the labor was completed, the commissioners decided.
Tramblie said he did not favor extending the fee waiver. “I think we’ve done a good job of giving people the opportunity to connect to our water systems. Traditionally, system development fees are used to fund infrastructure replacement, not operations,” he said. “We have a water system comprehensive plan expense coming up next year (on the Puget Island Water System),” he noted. The cost of preparing the comprehensive plan for the WWWS topped $20,000. The topic will be on the agenda at the next meeting.
Tramblie reported to the commissioners that he’d done preliminary planning about the costs of extending the WWWS water main along Salmon Creek Road to the Wanaimo Road area of Deep River. Residents in the area have expressed interest in the past. He estimated the cost at $150,000 to the PUD.
The potential project will be discussed at the PUD’s next quarterly meeting at Rosburg Hall.
The commissioners discussed proposed 2013 budgets for the electrical system and two water systems. The proposed budget shows a net increase of $98,827 for the electrical system and respective decreases of $13,477 and $7472 for the PIWS and WWWS.
Tramblie estimated that the electrical system would have approximately $1.6 to $1.8 million in reserve funds after the substation project is completed. WWWS has a USDA loan with 28 years of payments left at an interest rate of around five percent. “If the substation project goes as planned, I think we are in a position where we should consider paying off that loan and three other smaller loans with reserves, “ suggested Tramblie.
The current principal on the USDA loan is approximately $338,000, said Tramblie. He proposed setting up a 20-year loan between the electrical system and the WWWS with interest rates based off the state pool rates. “We’d be looking at similar sized monthly payments, but reducing them by eight years,” he said.
“We have lots we need to do on the WWWS," concluded Tramblie, displaying the four-inch thick binder containing the system’s comprehensive plan.
The commissioners requested Tramblie and PUD Auditor Erin Wilson work on a proposal for the commissioners to review at their next meeting.
The budgets will be approved in December.