The Devils Lake Water Improvement District held their annual budget meeting in the District’s office on May 11, 2009 at 10:00 am. In addition to the DLWID Board and Budget Committee members, two lake front residents were in attendance. We’ll cover just the meeting in this post and get you more details on the budget and the process in coming posts.
The 2009-2010 Budget was discussed for nearly 3 ½ hours culminating in the committees approval by a 6-1 vote of the proposed budget, with what amounted to a few minor presentation changes. Prior to this final vote a motion was defeated by a 5-2 vote to recommend a budget that removed the SolarBees project, more specifically, -$26,821 from the General Fund expenditures and -$1,067,380 from the Improvement Fund expenditures.
There were several concerns raised by the Budget Committee members. Two of the concerns did result in a change in the proposed budget by language placed in the motion that passed.
- Modify the budget message to clarify the authority granted to the board by approval of the budget by the committee.
- Change the budget for the Improvement Fund, specifically line 32 of LB-11, entitled “Reserved for Future Expenditure” will be reduced from $320,912 to $13,500. This change accurately identifies the Districts total reserved funds after purchase of 20 SolarBees.
Several of the concerns raised by Budget Committee members did not result in changes to the budget. The District explained that they could juggle funds to cover the additional expenditures.
- The proposed budget contains a new program in which the District “will provide the means” for lake front homeowners to “document the serviceability of their septic system in order to continue to receive municipal water”. Those homeowners who have septic systems needing repair will have water service suspended and be offered a loan from a pool of $100,000 from DLWID with a 5-10 year repayment schedule to make modifications. There are no expenses in the budget specifically identified for this program. Nothing, to cover the initial creation of the program or ongoing labor costs, billing costs, postage, or uncollectables that might be associated with such a program. It was suggested a figure be calculated to cover the expenditure.
- The proposed budget will make a $1,067,380 capital investment placing 20 SolarBees on the lake. The operating budget contains $0, for associated operating costs, routine maintenance or repairs due to damage or wear and tear from the harsh environment. The committee expressed concern that the District will exhaust its reserve with the initial purchase and has designated no ongoing expenditures associated with the project. It was suggested a figure be calculated to cover the expenditure.
- The budget contains the creation of a new reserve account to fund the eventual replacement of the DLWID vehicle. It was discussed that with the added duties on maintaining 20 SolarBees a similar reserve should be considered for the DLWID boat.
- It was stated that the District will need to find a new contractor to perform the tasks associated with lake level management. It was also stated that there would be additional tasks for this contractor beyond that required today. The budget amount for this item was not changed from the previous year and it was suggested it be increased.
- It was suggested that the legal budget be increased due to the potential of a future legal challenge related to the placement of SolarBees.
- It was suggested that the Public Relations budget is significantly less than in years past. Several of the committee members felt strongly that the public needs to be better informed as it relates to DLWID’s activities. The resolution that approved the budget includes language requesting public meetings specifically to accomplish this. With that in mind a request was made to increase the Public Relations budget amount to cover these efforts.
- Finally, as suggestion was made that certain cuts to the budget are made now to help cover the perceived shortfall from the above items. A specific recommendation was made to cut the summer intern and the RARE intern for a potential savings of $24,000.