Wes Smith, Financial Manager of the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) presented his final report for FY2017, ending June 30, 2017, to the board of directors at its Jan. 2 meeting. The report is an annual requirement for the $27 million in bonds owed by VVWD. The report shows significant financial improvements made by the district over the past year.
VVWD was forced to take on debt in the early 2000s and raise its metered user rates dramatically in 2014-2015 to meet pressures of the 2008 recession downturn and financial fraud within the district. The FY2017 annual audit shows a return to financial strength.
Smith pointed out to the board that the district has far exceeded its expectations in attaining a 3.12 coverage of its revenue to debt obligation ratio in the past year. Coming from a deficit position of 0.85 in 2014, the district hoped to attain a 1.25 position by 2015, and has now attained nearly three times that position. This strong stance gives the district fiscal leverage that adds to its bottom line in the form of higher earnings on its savings.
The 8,950 connected metered water users of the district are the backbone of the financial recovery of the district, having shouldered dramatically higher water rates and a $10 per month debt service fee that put the district back on the road to solvency in 2015. The rate payers will see that monthly debt service fee reduced by .70 cents in April 2018, due to Smith’s renegotiation of the terms of district’s debt.
In 2017 VVWD took incremental steps to keep financial pace with inflation and infrastructure needs by instituting a stepped 2 per cent increase in metered user fees in FY2018-2019, and has increased the standard development charge (SDC) for new development units to $2500, raising that fee for the first time in 20 years.
Trade West wins bid to equip well 27A
When Virgin Valley Water District finished drilling well 27A in early 2017, it was expected to go online before end of the year. Then the blessing of abundance kicked in. The well, located near the intersection of Pioneer Blvd and Oasis Blvd, proved up at almost 2,000 gallons per minute (gpm), outstripping the 1,200 gpm capacity of a pump purchased to repair former well 27. That well eventually failed and had to be abandoned.
The unexpectedly high flow of the replacement well required a larger pump and revision of the budget allocated for completion of the well. The VVWD board voted in August to purchase a higher capacity pump and the completion date for bringing the well online was pushed back.
Two companies, Trade West and Eagle View Contractors, submitted bids for the project. The VVWD board voting unanimously, 5-0, on a motion by board member Ben Davis to accept Trade West’s lower bid of $1,413,305.50 to outfit the well with pump and motor, pump house, surrounding wall and piping to bring Well 27A online. Work is expected to be completed in about six months.
Bowen, Collins, and Associates, a frequent engineering contractor for VVWD, was hired at a fee of $69,000 to manage the well 27A project completion. Hydrologist Aaron Bunker recommended outsourcing the project management due to shortage of VVWD staff to handle that job.
Board member Barb Ellestad asked that future hiring of a staff engineer be considered during the FY2019 budget hearings to compare cost of handling project management work in house. With that understanding, board member Travis Anderson moved to hire Bowen, Collins. The motion passed 5-0.
In other business, the board approved expenditures for general manager Kevin Brown, Bunker, and up to three board members to attend upcoming training meetings of the Nevada Rural Water Association in Las Vegas and Rural Water Association of Utah in St George.
Reporting on the long-pending application with the BLM for access to the rain gauge on Virgin Mountain and infrastructure access to Nickel Spring, Bunker said that the BLM office is
looking at amending VVWD’s original application rather than replacing it.
Brown reported that the Flat Top water tank replacement is progressing, but a delay in fabrication of the new tank will set the anticipated finish date back about one week to April 13. He also noted that pipe replacements on Marilyn Parkway, upper Mesa Blvd and Aztec Court are in progress.