PUD board, staff ponder how to address arrearages
April 21, 2022
The Wahkiakum County PUD Board of Commissioners discussed programs to address arrearages, listened to reports and approved a letter supporting a grant application being submitted by the Town of Cathlamet to develop and improve a waterfront park and trail.
Commissioner Dennis Reid proposed an executive session at a future meeting for an impromptu evaluation with the new general manager.
“I think we should meet with him to let him know how we think he’s doing,” Reid said.
There were no objections.
Reid, who had recently attended a Washington PUD Association meeting, shared two suggestions that had been made as a way to potentially address continuing arrearages.
One recommendation was for PUDs to sign up for a program offered through the Department of Commerce by May 27, regardless of whether the PUD was certain they would be participating or not. The PUD could always opt out in the future, Reid said, but could not sign up for the program after that date.
The second recommendation advised PUDs to create a $10 covid-19 credit on past due accounts, in hope that the Department of Commerce would consider that part of a relief program, because for now, only customers who had previously participated in relief programs were eligible for assistance.
There was some question as to whether that would work, Reid said, but there was some hope that it would. He added that he remembered the auditor saying that 80 percent of the current past due accounts at Wahkiakum PUD were people who had never participated in a relief program.
Auditor Erin Wilson pointed out that there may be some confusion about the latter suggestion, as the deadline for that appeared to be March 31. She said the PUD had already reached out for clarification.
The commissioners were in consensus that the manager should go ahead and try to take advantage of those potential opportunities.
General Manager Dan Kay was headed to a conference in California, so Wilson gave his report.
She said he had submitted three grant applications for two line extension projects on Puget Island; the two projects are currently in the Puget Island water plan.
Wilson said the PUD was also developing scope of work for camera systems, in order to get cameras put in the office parking lot and their materials yard.
The pole test and treat contractor continues to work, and according to the manager’s report it is going well.
“[We are] seeing a less than 3 percent reject rate,” Wilson said, adding that treatment was expected to extend the life of the poles.
Electric and water crews have been connecting new customers, identifying and repairing water leaks, and replacing poles that were identified by the pole testing, she said.
Commissioners approved a letter of support for the Town of Cathlamet’s application for a Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office grant, which the town would like to use for “improvements and redevelopment of the Cathlamet Waterfront Park and existing Strong Park/Waterfront trail.”