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PUD budget challenges shared

Monday - October 4, 2021 12:00pm

Okanogan County PUD commissioners officially opened the 2022 budget hearing Sept. 27 and discussed the possible impacts to the budget still ahead.

Since last meeting, the proposed draft budget has seen a few updates, including reducing one proposed staff member for 2022. The draft budget and other supporting documents are posted on the PUD’s website.

Staff and the board discussed possible impacts of changes to the power market, which could result in price increases to power that the PUD purchases. The PUD will be required to purchase more power on the market while at the same time less power will be available, driving up prices to an extent that cannot yet be predicted.

The board also discussed price increases from many distributors for equipment, construction costs and more.

Several staff members also shared more details from their department’s budgets during an evening workshop.

In other business, the board:

  • Heard that there are about 20 customers left with more than $1,000 past-due balances on their accounts. More customers are reaching out for bill assistance programs and payment plans as the end to the disconnection moratorium approached Sept. 30. Customer Service Supervisor Mindy Morris said about $70,000 is past due from a total of about 80 accounts. Staff continue to reach out, leaving messages door-to-door and calling with resource information.
  • Heard that construction of the Okanogan-Brewster transmission line is fully underway now, with steel poles being placed in the ground.
  • Briefly discussed that the PUD will have to review its district lines due to the census, as is required every 10 years. It is not yet clear if any boundaries will need to change.