The Okanogan County PUD commissioners approved the 2019 budget at their Dec. 17 meeting, calling for $55.7 million in revenue, $49.6 million in expenditures and $3.7 million in debt service.
The budget also includes bonding additional money to cover the costs of upgrading and replacing aging infrastructure to improve reliability and better serve customers. The budget anticipates $19.6 million in capital outlay, including design and construction at the Tonasket substation and the Okanogan-Brewster transmission line.
With the additional expenses incurred, the utility expects to increase revenue by 1.5 percent by raising the base charge next year. However, a separate resolution will need to be passed by commissioners before a rate increase goes into effect. General Manager Steve Taylor said a rate study will be done in the coming year, looking out 10 years to plan for needs ahead.
The budget was adopted after several months of budget hearings and special meetings.
In other business, the board:
- Approved Resolution 1676 to lower some wholesale broadband rates. The changes only affect carriers and large business customers, and make the rates more competitive in the market. Power Resource Manager Ron Gadeberg said he expects some of these customers will upgrade their services based on the new rates, and the District will be more attractive to new customers.
- Approved Resolution 1678, changing the board meeting schedule to remove the 2:30 p.m. regular executive session. Instead, if an executive session is needed, it will be called as needed during the regular meeting, or a special meeting will be called.
- Approved Resolution 1679, formally authorizing the general manager to approve leave or incentive programs in special circumstances. Examples would be in inclement weather, allowing employees to leave work early, or an employee receiving a service award at a milestone mark.
- Approved a contract with Christensen Associates, not to exceed $253,000, for dam safety work at Enloe Dam in 2019.
- Heard that Taylor signed a land-use agreement with BPA, which will allow Okanogan PUD to build a direct line from the Twisp substation to the existing Winthrop tap. This will create redundancy for Winthrop, through the Pateros-to-Twisp transmission line and the Loup.