PUD budget is in the works
November 18, 2021
The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners talked about the proposed 2022 budget, redistricting, a conservation plan, and more at their meeting on Tuesday.
Auditor Erin Wilson went over some changes to the budget, which will be on the agenda for approval at the PUD’s December 7 meeting. The proposed budget of $5,820,315 includes capital investments of $767,250. Planned projects include contracted tree trimming, pole testing, a recloser for the Wahkiakum substation, security updates to the office building, pipe replacement in the Western Wahkiakum and the Puget Island water systems, a small bucket truck, and more.
“I think it’s a good job on the budget,” Commissioner Dennis Reid said. “I’m happy to see no rate increases anywhere in the budget, and everything is working well…our reserves are staying steady, so good job.”
Wilson said that she and the general manager would be exploring rates in the coming year, which prompted Commissioner Bob Jungers to ask about cost-service analysis.
General Manager Dan Kay said that it appeared that an internal cost-service analysis had worked in the past, and he didn’t believe that there was a need for a third party to be involved.
“I’m not ever going to vote for raising rates as long as our reserves our good,” Reid warned.
Counsel Tim Hanigan said that there would be a public hearing for redistricting at the next meeting. He said there was a population of 1,400 in commissioner’s Districts 1 and 3 and 1,700 in District 2.
According to Hanigan, the county was not planning on changing any of the boundaries and he said he would be recommending that the PUD do the same, depending on public comment.
Wilson said she and Kay were working on a Clean Energy Implementation Plan for the Clean Energy Transformation Act requirements. The plan will require public input, so there will be public hearing at the next meeting. Their goal is to have a draft of that plan by the end of November.
The plan will set goals for conservation and take into consideration the different populations that the PUD serves countywide, according to Wilson.
During the manager’s report, Kay expressed gratitude to all the agencies that are involved in getting power restored during outages, including the fire departments, the sheriff’s department, state patrol, and the line crew.
He thanked the commissioners for their support of the 2022 budget which, he said, allows the PUD to continue the work of maintaining and improving the system, with tree trimming and more “to increase reliability and extend the life of our assets.”
Kay said he’d been doing more engineering in the last couple weeks, from line design to improving equipment settings, and working with manufacturers to ensure the PUD's equipment was working right.
He also said he was talking with staff and working on relationships with the Washington PUD Association and the Department of Health as well as looking for funding opportunities with the new infrastructure bill coming out.
Wilson said there would be emails and information in the coming bills regarding payment plans for customers in arrears and that on January 1, 2022, they would return to their normal collection practice.
She was happy to share that Wahkiakum PUD had received a clean audit and were following up on a couple suggestions they had received during the process. They are reviewing their written collections policy and creating a roster of architects and engineers.
“A clean audit is a big deal,” Reid said. “Thank you.”