PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners will consider a rise in water rates.
The Public Utility District (PUD) met Monday night in a special meeting to discuss the 2020 budget before convening a regular business meeting.
The 2020 budget has a predicted net operating deficit for the water utility of $764,226, with an expected $2,615,224 in revenues and $3,377,450 in expenses.
The predicted net operating deficit electrical utility is $152,065, with an expected $37,359,580 in revenues and $37,511,646 in expenses.
PUD staff recommended an increase in water rates but not in electrical rates.
Commissioners plans to hire a consultant to conduct a water and electric cost review and analyze prices.
The budget does not reflect a rise in water utility and won’t until the commissioners vote to approve the increase.
“We can’t add an increase to the budget because it hasn’t been approved by the board,” said Kevin Streett, PUD general manager.
“We do not see a rise in electric, but we do see an increase for water.”
The PUD will keep property tax revenues at the same level as last year. The revenues are split 20 percent water and 80 percent electric.
This distribution is due to the difference in costumer bases that each utility has, being an almost 80-20 split between electric and water.
Expenses are also rising due to staff positions the PUD is trying to fill.
Commission Chair Jeff Randall clarified that “the electricity may not go up, but we’re still not at a sustainable staffing point.”
The PUD will lower its budgeted new positions from 10 to 9, according to the board packet.
Anticipated revenues for water and electric were based on the actual revenues over the past 12 months with the electric rate adjusted for the extreme cold months.
Another increase in expenses that the PUD has going into 2020 will be an increase in each department’s training budgets by 15 percent to 20 percent.
A factor that may impact the coming budget is the increase broadband infrastructure that the PUD has in motion, that will allow broadband internet to reach more people, but will have financial impacts on the PUD.
“Broadband is now going to be the elephant in the room, too,” said Dan Toepper, District 3 commissioner.
All commissioners agreed that it will be beneficial to wait to approve the budget until after the financial review, though broadband is expected to be beneficial to the area.
“We need to increase the revenue from the map of the various pockets that are under served,” said Kenneth Collins, District 2 commissioner.
“There are people very close to fiber but they’re not connected. … Kids would be able access homework assignments from where they can’t do that now.”
The commissioners will review the budget again with public comment at their next meeting at 5 p.m. Oct. 15 at 63 Four Corners Road, in the Jefferson Transit Board Room.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].