At the Oct. 19 Carroll-Boone Water District board meeting, Office Manager Cathy Klein stated the financial status of the district compares very well to their status through the same period in 2016. She said they have sold 54 million gallons of water less than expected, but this shortfall was offset by closely monitoring expenses.
Klein said payroll expenses have increased because they hired four new employees during the past two years, and of their 14 employees – 10 full-time and four part-time – four are 60 or older. Plant manager Barry Connell said he expects two of his crew to retire within 18 months, so he’s exposing new employees to more tasks around the facility so they have a better understanding of what it takes to run the plant.
Commissioners agreed to include a three percent increase in wages in the 2018 budget.
Klein said a cool, wet year is forecast for 2018, so she’s not expecting much of an increase in water sales. She noted, however, there will be boost is usage when the Tyson plant expansion in Green Forest goes online.
This year, the plant spent more than expected on repair of a generator, and although it’s working, it’s also one reason to increase the emergency fund next year. Klein also included $25,000 to update the Master Plan. Cost of disposing solids increased by just over 20 percent this year, and she is planning for $4.8 million in repairs over the next three years.
Connell commented the cost of sludge removal should be less. He has changed procedures in how they treat the water, and as a result instead of nine feet of sludge, it appears there will be only five or six feet.
He pointed out the roof of the office will require repairs costing as much as $80,000. He said Klein sometimes must place a receptacle for drips in her office. Chair James Yates asked Connell to give the board an estimate so they can decide whether to go toward a short term fix or “bite the bullet and fix it.”
Consulting engineer Brad Hammond of McGoodwin, Williams and Yates presented the board with a plan to replace the East Plant finished water meter. He estimated the meter would cost around $17,000 and installation would run probably less than $20,000. He and attorney Dan Bowers agreed the supplier of the meter and contractor who installed it would be different, and the expenses for each less than $20,000, so it made sense to waive bid requirements. The board approved their recommendation.
Hammond mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding with the four customer cities had not been updated in 20 years, so he presented a new one to the customer cities which included an increase of five cents per thousand gallons of water purchased. The city of Harrison had already formally approved it, Berryville had approved but not yet signed, and Green Forest had reviewed and had no exceptions. He said Eureka Springs was still considering it.
Hammond said the new MOU contained a revised connection policy that clarified procedures for adding new connections. Klein stated the old MOU did not have a collection policy, so the district is presenting a policy which clarified points related to due dates and late payments. She wanted to insure once Carroll-Boone sells water it can collect in a timely fashion in order to make its bond payments on time. To accommodate the cities, she suggested they consider a payment as delinquent at 30 days instead of 20 days, and Yates wanted to be reasonable and not lay heavy penalties on customers having cash flow problems.
Commissioner Gene Bland suggested they table discussion of the collection policy to give the board time to mull it over, but the board did approve the revised connection policy.
Hammond also presented a plan for adjusting the pH of the water gradually over 12 months from 8.2 to 8.6. The board voted to accept the bid from Seven Valleys Construction to install the infrastructure and equipment necessary to accomplish their goal.
Engineer Chris Hall, also of MWY, told the board the Keels Creek stabilization project was complete, and because of grant funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Carroll-Boone paid only $96,017 for a project that cost $339, 866.
Hammond mentioned the Master Plan update, which will begin early in 2018, would include designs for new generator facilities and automation of the transfer switch system.
Next meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m. at the Freeman-Raney Water Treatment Plant.