The Water Company has been busy since the last Bubbler edition.
The Board of Directors has modified their meeting format from the standard practice of monthly meetings to selected months starting in November of 2017. The Board Meeting schedule starting in 2018: January, March, May, June, September and November. The shift to the revised schedule was driven by the ease of the electronic based meeting option and the use of staff time. All meetings, electronic or live, will be held in strict accord with the Open Meeting act of 2014.
The November meeting saw the 2018 Budget, which was approved but the discussion on any rate increase will be addressed in a week or so, as an electronic meeting is currently being scheduled.
At every meeting the General Manager reports out on the system’s consumption or use rate and I am proud to say that our customers are continuing to conserve water use. CONGRATULATIONS to those who make that effort!!
There was a report from the Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) that dealt with the future costs of the Company and what to expect financially in the coming years. This report is included in this edition of the Bubbler for your convenience.
The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) loan (Project) will be kicking off in mid-2018 and the initial loan payment will be due a year later. The Project requires an extensive audit of our financials. A specific com-pany was chosen to handle the matter.
Mr. Jay Brethauer was appointed to the Board to fill the vacancy created by Tom Schneider. Jay’s term will run until June 2019. Thank you, Tom, for your energy and time commitment to the Board and welcome to Jay. Tom has agreed to stay on as part of the LRPC, which in addition to three Board members carries two at-large members from the Arnold Community. Tom’s move also created a Board Member spot on the LRPC and Andy Rich was appointed by the Board to fill that vacancy.
The November Board meeting was adjourned to a Town Hall Meeting that was held at Snowflake Lodge. The Town Hall was designed to inform the shareholders of the initial progress of the Project and there were about 200 in attendance.
As you recall Blue Lake Springs Water Company applied for a grant from USDA and was denied. The Board then sought a loan and that was approved. The $12.23M loan is to cover the cost of improvements of the Water Company infrastructure, including the Water Treatment Facility, in-ground piping to vastly improve firefighting capabilities with new hi-volume fire hydrants; and, the movement of the 1960/70s era residential supply lines from rear property areas out to the utility right-of-way, at or in the roadside gutter.
This is all cost.
The Board agreed to move toward reimbursing our shareholders for the cost of relocating their service line. The precise details on how that program will work are still being examined.
There were two representatives of MC Engineering at the meeting who answered many questions. This is the company chosen via a competitive bidding process that will be overseeing the entire project Accord-ing to these representatives, John Pedri and Rich Relyea, the positioning of new pipelines, meter boxes, laterals (a lateral is a pipe hook-up that extends from the pipeline in the utility right-of-way onto the cus-tomer’s property and into the meter-box) and meter placements have been identified to all properties. John and Rich emphasized that it is important to identify the placement on your property, which can be accomplished by seeking out the markers OR by calling 209-795-7025 or visiting the Water Company Office at 1011 Blagen Road. Some homeowners have concerns over the path chosen for their new, front service line as it pertains to trees, retaining walls, flower beds etc., and thus the placement of the lateral et al. Ease the pain by checking this out ahead of time.
You will see Water Company staff in your neighborhood. We will make every effort to let you know when we will be working at your site.
At the Town Hall Meeting, staff collected email addresses and questions on cards. We’re still working on them. We STILL need your email if we don’t have it.
One question that came up that deserves another answer was: “What is all this going to cost me?” The USDA loan is a 40-year obliga-tion for $12.23M at 1.875% annual interest. I am estimating that individual payments to the loan will not occur until late 2018, early 2019.
We are in the process of designing a new, more focused rate schedule. The new schedule will be made of two parts:
- A base rate that is designed to operate the company.
- A consumption or use rate that will be tier structured to charge customers for water.
Simply put: You only pay for what you use.
Once the base/use rates are calculated we will adjust the billing system and institute new billing cycles. Looking forward, I would see this new rate structure coming on board by early 2020. Any speculation as to the “how much” or “what’s that gonna cost me” is guesswork at this point.
Stay informed on up-dates and progress of the Project by reading the Bubbler, and visiting our website www.blsmwc.com. We update frequently.
If you are curious about the Project, or how the Project will impact your property, or have ANY questions, call the BLSMWC office at 795-7025 or email email@example.com.
The next Town Hall meeting will probably be at the 2018 Annual Meeting in June.
Enjoy the Holidays,