​SUD Approves 2017 Budget, Modest Rate Increase

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Dec. 13 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, the board approved a 2017 budget with projected revenue $12,500 below expenses. “We haven’t shown a loss in four years,” SUD manager Ben Beavers said. “Our cash position is strong. We can pay for capital improvements out of cash reserves if necessary.”
Beavers projected total revenues of $1,397,778, nearly $60,000 less than in 2016. He anticipates fewer residential tap sales in 2017 and noted that water sales have been declining.
On the expense side, the $169,000 capital improvements budget allocates $100,000 for inflow and infiltration repair of the waste water collection system, with major work needed in the Depot Branch area. Other big ticket items include a new service truck ($28,000); leak detection equipment and surveys ($15,000); replacing the 14-year-old four-wheeler at the wastewater treatment facility ($10,000); an equipment trailer ($6,000); refurbishing the office ($8,000); and a new computer ($2,000).
Projected operating expenses totaling $980,282 include $25,000 to replace grinder pumps in the waste water collection system and a modest 3.2 percent raise for employees, slightly above the inflation rate.
The budget reflects a 1 percent customer rate increase. Water only customers can anticipate a .30 to .50 cent increase in their bills each month. Sewer customers’ bills will increase by approximately $1 each month.
Updating the board on the Midway pressure boosting station, Beavers said bids continue to come in for the project. The board will vote on contractor bids at the January meeting. Beavers anticipates SUD beginning its portion of work on the project before the end of the year.
Beavers recommended SUD move from mandatory water use restrictions to voluntary restrictions. “Even though it’s been raining, the supply lakes are still low,” Beavers said. The board concurred with the recommendation with the adjustment in restrictions to be effective immediately. Beavers expects voluntary restrictions will be lifted in January.
The board nominated Charlie Smith as a candidate in the upcoming commissioner election. Other prospective candidates must be SUD customers and submit a petition with the names of 10 SUD customers before Jan. 4. Voting will take place during regular business hours at the SUD office from Jan. 4 until the next commissioner’s meeting on Jan. 24.