New PUD manager gets acquainted
September 23, 2021
The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners listened to reports and discussed the preliminary budget at their meeting on Tuesday morning.
In his first report as general manager, Dan Kay said there has been a steady flow of new customer service work for the last two weeks, and that the crew had been doing a line extension or new service connect every day. It was starting to slow, he said, but they were still getting more calls.
Meanwhile, they continue to work on system improvements.
Kay said he had met with several people, including representatives from Noanet, Bonneville Power Administration, the Washington PUD Association, and more.
“I’m trying to get all the players, learning about what is going on in the community and how we can be actively engaged,” Kay said.
Kay said he went out with the crew on Friday night to respond to a couple minor outages.
“I have to say I’m impressed with Wahkiakum PUD, with the reliability of the system and the staff. It’s just hands down, wonderful,” he said. “The two crewmen I went with, I’m sure this is indicative of all of them, were extremely professional, very safety minded, very efficient, wanting to get the customers back in service.”
Auditor Erin Wilson said the state audit had begun this week. She later went over the preliminary budget for 2022.
There were no proposed rate increases for the budget, she said.
The total cashflow for the proposed budget is $5,807,755. Currently under capital investment, which totals $829,825, they are proposing $308,075 for vehicle replacement, a number that Wilson said she and Kay
would look at to see if it can be reduced, or consider leaving as a placeholder if the small bucket truck the PUD needs becomes available. They have set aside $120,000 for tree trimming and $80,000 for a continuing project to test and replace poles in the county.
"Back in the day when we went through the motions of combining the systems and ultimately paying off a loan on the Western Wahkiakum Water System,” Commissioner Gene Healy said, “we promised ourselves that we would spend that money we saved on system improvements. I’d like to do some kind of steps to insure ourselves that we are throwing about $35,000 a year…into that system.”
“That’s why we are budgeting $50,000 a year for pipe replacement,” Wilson said. “We’ve done that the last two years and we’ve replaced a lot of pipe down there. It’s making a huge difference in our losses.”
“More of the capital items in this budget are dedicated to Western Wahkiakum in this year than ever,” she added. “The pipe replacement, cleaning the reservoirs, the ladder.”
“Those are things we weren’t doing before we paid off that loan,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said. “I’m glad you brought that up, because it gives some marching orders to the new manager.
“Before we combined all the systems into one, especially with Western Wahkiakum, we were kicking the can down the road, because that system just didn’t have any money whatsoever, unless it was an emergency,” Reid continued. “By doing what we’ve done, a lot of things are getting done that weren’t getting done before. It didn’t make sense for the electric to have good reserves and the water system to have none, and to be paying interest to the electric system for the loan. We’re much better off.”
The budget will be finalized in December.
In a final bit of business, commissioners added the new general manager’s name to the district’s bank accounts, and removed retired manager Dave Tramblie’s name.