Ron Slabaugh, Water and Wastewater manager, and Andrew Wendell, Customer Service manager, recommended that water rates increase by 5 percent each year through 2016 and sewer rates increase by 15 percent annually for the same period.
The rate recommendation supports District financial policies, guiding principles and customer priorities, Wendell said. And, it is based on new business plans for each utility service, developed as called for in the District’s Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan incorporates customer priorities and preferences gleaned from extensive community outreach where customers have said they would like PUD utility systems to stand on their own financially if possible.
Revenues are needed to cover the infrastructure and operating costs of the sewer and water systems that cover wide rural areas of Chelan County where population is less dense. The systems serve about 6,000 customers.
Factors considered in the rate proposal include aging infrastructure; new regulation for the small, rural systems; and the reliable, responsive service provided across multiple systems with a relatively small number of customers, Wendell said.
Commissioners asked staff to look at the possibility of a smaller sewer increase over a longer period. They also scheduled public meetings at 5:30 p.m. on April 16 at the PUD Auditorium in Leavenworth and April 24 at the Wenatchee PUD Auditorium to talk with customers about the rate proposal and gather comments. A public hearing will be held on May 6 before commissioners are asked to take action.
If approved, the new rates would start June 1.
In other business Monday, commissioners:
- Named PUD staff attorney Erik Wahlquist the new general counsel and chief compliance officer effective May 6. He will fill the position now held by Carol Wardell who is moving into a new role as a part-time staff attorney. Wahlquist has been an attorney for 17 years, working on PUD and other issues at Davis Arneil Law Firm in Wenatchee before joining the District in 2008. In promoting Wahlquist, board members concurred with the recommendation of Wardell and General Manager John Janney.
- Selected executive search firm Mycoff, Fry and Prouse of Conifer, Colo., to conduct the search for a new PUD general manager to fill the position after John Janney leaves the District in August. The work will be done under a contract not to exceed $75,000.
- Received an update on demolition and reconstruction of the fiber system on the south shore of Lake Wenatchee that was damaged beyond repair in last December’s storms. Potelco of Sumner, Wash., was the low bidder on the labor and equipment portion of the project at $318,542. Crews are setting up this week, and are expected to start work on March 25 and finish by June 18, said George Velazquez, PUD project manager. The overall project estimate including demolition, rebuilding, engineering, administration and materials is $495,000 to $605,000.