BBWSD may increase water, sewer rates

Published on Wed, Nov 2, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Declining revenue for the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) will most likely mean water and sewer rate increases, but district officials have yet to determine how much of an increase will be needed.

The two previous summers of wet and cold weather in Birch Bay have put a dent in the district’s revenue, district manager Roger Brown said. The majority of water use in the area is outdoor, so district customers use less water during colder weather.

Brown estimates a 10 percent decrease in district revenue from last year. To remedy this, he has proposed a number of ways to raise money for 2012, the most likely of which would be water and sewer rate increases, though Brown could not yet give exact figures.

“Those are things I’m still working on,” Brown said.

Further budgetary constraints stem from the district’s policy of keeping 180 days worth of expenses in the operating fund. However, Brown said he has discussed this policy with an economist and would consider altering the 180-day figure after further study.

In addition to declining revenue, costs for materials to keep the district running are increasing, operations manager Mike Sower said.

Brown said 64 percent of the district’s budget is operating and labor costs, which district officials are working to reduce.
To reduce labor costs, an inspector position was eliminated and combined with the water conservation specialist, bringing the 2012 district position count to 14. The district also combined the water and sewer manager positions in 2010, thereby shedding another position.

The district has incurred one-time state auditor and accounting consultant costs stemming from former treasurer Glenn Golay’s embezzlement of $469,000 in February. Brown said the district is fully insured, minus a $5,000 deductible.

In 2011, about one-third of BBWSD customers saw a rate decrease while a further 24 percent saw an increase of 2.4 percent or less. District officials increased rates by 1 percent across the board in 2009.