PAWSD board prepares for final budget decisions


    Tuesday afternoon, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District board of directors met for a work session in order to thoroughly discuss the 2012 amended budget and the 2013 proposed budget.

    Concerning the Debt Service Fund, director Roy Vega asked why the line item Interest on Debt Service was amended for the 2012 budget to $11,345 from the prior amount of $300. Business services manager Shellie Peterson explained that this amount came from the refunding of the 2002 and 2003 General Obligation Bond that had not been anticipated prior to the approval of the 2012 budget.

    Kyle Tjelmland, PAWSD GIS and asset management coordinator, clarified some of the technical aspects of the 2012 budget, such as the amended amount of $8,000 for the Water SCADA system, up from the prior approved amount of $3,460. For the 2013 budget, the line item shoots to $51,000. SCADA, (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems), allows PAWSD personnel to control the water and wastewater treatment plants via a computer system accessible by phone or laptop. PAWSD project manager Greg Mayo explained that the increase to $8,000 in the proposed budget for the Water SCADA system was for the repairs to the SCADA system at Eagle Peak. Repairs had been anticipated, but the cost was higher than expected.

    Tjelmland explained to the board that $51,000 for the 2013 proposed budget is for significant improvements to the system. Tjelmland said that not only are the radios used by PAWSD currently out of date, but the SCADA software is also out of date. The total amount to upgrade is $75,000 with $51,000 from the Water Fund and the other $24,000 from the Wastewater Fund.

    PAWSD directors were satisfied with the explanation of these budgetary items. However, also on the 2013 proposed budget is $150,000 for the completion of a pole barn. This amount covers lights, electricity, concrete, asphalt, mud separator, insulation and carwash. Mayo explained that the carwash was necessary for two reasons. First, owners of the carwash that PAWSD currently uses for their trucks and larger equipment have asked that PAWSD no longer bring larger equipment there because the mud clogs the drains. Second, Mayo said that equipment must either be cleaned or sprayed with high temperature water in order to go onto Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands.

    This explanation did not satisfy director Mike Church. “To me, it’s just a big capital improvements budget,” Church said, then he addressed the pole barn completion project specifically, adding, “I’m not in favor of the district getting into the carwash business.”

    Mayo said that only $8,000 was for the hot wash water system, and added that if the district does not build this, it must continue to steam clean the larger equipment and machinery.

    Church also brought up the subject of an additional parking lot, noting that while it’s not paved yet, the area has already been cleared and stating he is not in favor of it, calling it unnecessary. However, that was not Church’s main point of disagreement with the proposed budget, that being $86,000 for collection systems upgrades — an upgrade that would allow the district to monitor the amount of wastewater people manually dump into the system. Currently, the honor system is used for this.

    “Spending $86,000 for something that brings in $10,000 per year is not justified,” Church said.

    However, Jeff Shamburg, engineer with Bartlett and West, said that knowing the quantity that is dumped is beneficial to engineers.

    “That persuades me,” Vega said, adding that it is an unquantifiable benefit, since it gives engineers empirical data.

    Church was not convinced. If the costs could not be recouped in three years, then to him it was not worth it. Church did ask that there be a justification written for these expenses in the future.

    The final budget will be presented to the board for approval during a 2 p.m. Dec. 11 regular meeting.