Water and Sewer budgets pass

For fiscal year 2020
Thu, 06/27/2019 - 5:15pm

Water Company and Sewer Commission budgets were passed by a small group of ratepayers at the annual financial meeting on Monday, June 17.

The Water Company budget is $851,721. The Sewer Commission’s budget was passed at $1,505,513.

Block Island’s water and sewer ratepayers will see a slight increase in their user fees in the upcoming fiscal year.

User fees will be increasing 2.5 percent in fiscal year 2020 for both companies. The Water Company budget includes a five percent increase for monthly customer charges to cover debt service. There will be no rate increase for the Sewer Department’s monthly customer charge.

That information was announced at the joint meeting of the Water and Sewer Commission on Monday afternoon, when the commission passed the fiscal year 2020 operating and capital budgets for both entities, while noting the increase in user fees for 2020.

With a show of hands during the annual financial meeting for the two companies, the 2020 budgets for the Sewer Commission and Water Company passed. There were no major surprises in either budget.

Mona Helterline, the town’s Deputy Finance Director, read through a review of revenue and expenditures for both companies. Helterline noted that the 2020 budget for the Water Company is $851,721, a 5.18 percent increase over 2019. The 2.5 percent increase in user fees for 2020 is expected to bring in $483,150 in revenue for the fiscal year.

The Water Company’s budget is impacted by a $30,000 capital expense project for replacement of the cathodic protection system in the company’s two storage tanks. Cathodic protection is a method of protecting metal structures from corrosion, or rust.

Helterline said the Water Company’s principal balance for its debt will be $1,358,421 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, with the FY 2020 payment toward the debt budgeted at $105,213. The company’s budget narrative notes that its rate structure “is designed with the intent that the customer charge will fund the annual debt service commitment. While the Sewer Department has achieved this goal, the Water Company is still working to bridge the gap.”

The Sewer Department budget for 2020 is $1,505,513, a 6.3 increase over 2019. Noted in the budget is a 2.5 percent increase in user fees.

Helterline said it’s the “first time in a while” the Sewer Department has had to dip into reserves, allocating $68,802 to fund a capital project. That project calls for replacement of a 45 year-old AC force main with new PVC pipe for the Boat Basin’s pump out station. In prior years large capital replacement projects were funded through “USDA grants/loans, an option that is not advantageous at this time,” she said.

Notable in the budget is $30,000 for electricity at the sewer plant, since the facility now relies on energy provided by the Block Island Utility District. In previous years, the plant relied on its diesel generators for the summer months. The budget also includes a $15,000 expenditure for hiring a consultant to conduct a survey of the treatment plant, and pump out facilities at Champlin’s Marina and the Boat Basin.

In other news, Brad Marthens will remain as Chair, while Kathy Szabo was elected Vice Chair of the Water Commission, replacing Terri Chmiel. Steve Draper is Vice Chair of the Sewer Commission.

The commission informed Pete Mott that it needs more information about the Sewer Department’s property before deciding on his request to purchase a small piece of property adjacent to its parking lot (Plat 7 Lot 15) located near the Harbor Church. Mott wants to use the property for his towing business.