Pine Water Committee Recommends Budget Changes

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The eight-member Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District Citizen Budget Review Committee has formulated a fiscal year budget it will recommend to the Gila County Board of Supervisors and the new PSWID governing board when it is elected May 20.

The committee formulated the proposed budget during three meetings.

The Saturday, April 12 meeting, Citizen Budget Review Committee Secretary Sam Schwalm said drew more than 40 water users and was “amiable with a lot of questions from those attending.”

The budget built on this year’s, with some key changes, said Schwalm:

• Reduced the property tax assessment from $625,000 to $500,000.

“This is to honor the promise made to the community by last year’s board that the $125,000 was a one time thing.”

• Adding $500,000 in borrowing authority.

“We don’t intend to use this unless there is something discovered in the master plan we must address. This also provides some backup, from a risk point of view, in case there is an unexpected catastrophe that the reserves can’t handle.”

• Putting $85,000 into a reserve fund coming out of FY 2014 and estimating an increase to $125,000 by the end of fiscal year 2015.

“Last year’s budget was planned to result in a reserve of $275,000. Due to a significant short fall in revenue and higher expenses, that wasn’t reached.”

• Increasing working funds to $250,000.

“The working funds deal with contingency issues and to smooth out the variations in cash flow.”

• Reduce the base rate for 3/4 inch meters from $50.06 to $42.50 to match the base rate for 5/8 inch meter.

“This is being done so that the base rate for residential users is consistent.”

• Reduce the meter re-install fee from $1,200 to $150 and create a re-establishment fee of $100 + (base rate times the number of months service was terminated).

“This is being done to remove the additional $1,200 that a person behind on payment will face when the meter is pulled for non-payment. The $1,200 fee was being used to deter people from having their service terminated during the winter.”

The budget committee did not come up with a list of capital projects because the consulting firm of CH2M Hill hasn’t finalized the master plan. CH2M Hill’s Brad Cole told members during an April 3 meeting the firm couldn’t finish the master plan in time to influence the work of the budget committee.

When the company does finish the plan, the committee will prioritize projects, said Schwalm.

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