PSD in better financial shape than previously thought
A miscalculation in the Pocahontas County Public Service District budget is giving the PSD board reason to feel more confident about its plan to develop a new wastewater treatment facility at Linwood. The board will decide the beleaguered plant's location next week.
A regular monthly transaction that is automatically diverted to a specific account was being recorded as an expense rather than an asset for the board. According to PSD treasurer and secretary Ricky Barkley, the mistake was discovered during a recent review of PSD accounts.
"Dave [Litsey] is actually the one that found my problem for me," said Barkley. "I got to looking at the figures he had and what I had. All the figures that Dave had on his spread sheet, I plugged into this spread sheet here. And right now it shows, at the end of the year, if everything goes as projected, we're about $10,000 in the hole rather than $148,000."
Board members expressed their relief at the budgetary windfall.
"Well ain't that a blessing?" said board member Amon Tracey.
"This is fantastic," agreed chairman Tom Shipley.
Barkley reminded the board that it still needs to proceed with the project with caution.
"So right now we've got roughly $46,000 in the checking account. It's going to be tight because a lot of the line items are still below the budget, but it looks better than it did," said Barkley.
Shipley believes the board's progress in recent weeks can be attributed to its weekly special work sessions.
"I think the last couple of weeks, where we've met every Friday to go through every invoice, has been very helpful. It's been educational for me," said Shipley.
Board members discussed the possibility of reorganizing budget categories to better track spending.
"A change in the categories isn't going to help find money in the budget," said board member David Litsey.
Barkley agreed, but said the changes will help clarify where money is being spent.
Tracey proposed a mutually beneficial partnership with other service districts in the state. Tracey said that if another pump were to go down and require replacement, it could take as long as eight weeks to arrive. He proposed that the PSD establish a working relationship with other municipalities to share vital equipment in the event of an emergency.
"Imagine what would happen to the sewer in eight weeks. We'd all get lynched," said Tracey. "These pumps are so expensive, why don't we see if one of these other sewer outfits have one. There may be three or four of those [pumps] sitting around West Virginia, it'd take maybe 10 hours maximum to get one from the southern part of the state to here. Not eight weeks but 10 hours," said Tracey.
Shipley agreed the idea was plausible, and said he believes that an association the PSD joined last year may be able to assist.
"We joined, last January, the West Virginia Municipal Water Quality Association and I think that's one of the very things they do," said Shipley. "We would have to reciprocate, but I think it's a fabulous idea."
With the deadline approaching for selecting one of the three proposed sites, board members discussed how they'd like to go about making an informed decision.
"What I would like to do is ask Waste Water Management, Inc. to have all the information they can get as far as pricing, where we are with permits and permissions, financing, all the things that were part of the filing, and see where we are," said Shipley. "I think we should take all that information and consider it carefully and make our decision based on what we have at that time, not what we hope might happen. If we don't have the permits or we don't have the letters, we need to take that into consideration as to whether or not that might affect our approval."
Board members agreed to meet Tuesday February 7 for a final information gathering session. The board will then make a final decision on Thursday February 9 as to where the new wastewater treatment facility will be located.