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 nail down how much will be needed.
Two past 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 when colder weather keeps water around for longer, district customers use less, Brown explained.
Brown estimates a 10 percent decrease in district revenue from last year. To remedy this, Brown has proposed a number of ways of raising money for 2012, the most likely of which being 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 of the issue.
In addition to declining revenue, costs for materials that 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.
In an effort to reduce labor costs, district officials did away with an inspector position and combined it with the water conservation specialist, bringing the 2012 district position count to 14. The district also combined the water and sewer manager positions on 2010, thereby shedding another position.
The district has also 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 insured for the full amount, minus a $5,000 deductible.
In 2011, about one-third of district customers saw a rate decrease while a further 24 percent saw increase of 2.4 percent or less. District officials increased rates by 1 percent across the board in 2009.