At its Oct. 2 meeting, the Virgin Valley Water Board heard a summary report by Morris Peacock of Hinton Burdick on the annual audit of district finances from its prior year that ended June 30.
The audit reconfirmed VVWD’s financial progress over the past year. The district ended its year with $68.39 million in total net assets, almost $4million more than in FY2017. VVWD retired
$2.156 million in debt, reducing the former $10 per month per user debt service fee to $9.30 per month.
While this reduction looks small for each water user, the cumulative effect of the reduction is huge, in that it reduces interest expenses by $80,000 per year, and helps VVWD to keep future water rate increases to one or two per cent per year instead of onerous rate increases suffered in other areas, and here in VVWD in the past. The 2018 audit also stood in stark contrast with the 2014 report in which VVWD had a $1.4 million negative balance for the year.
Peacock and others praised VVWD finance officer Wes Smith for the implementation of WaterWorth software that allows the district to better forecast the impact of costs versus revenues, inflation, and other critical projections of future operations. The software has become the basis of VVWD’s improved financial planning. In the process of using WaterWorth over the past year, it was noted that Smith has become something of a “go-to guy” for coaching other WaterWorth subscribers.
The Hinton Burdick audit found no significant deficiencies, and was accepted by the board on a 5-0 unanimous vote.
District manager Kevin Brown presented his annual report to the board, his fifth report since
assuming the manager position in 2014. He reiterated the dramatic difference in district finance position since that year when the district was awash in debt and needed to institute major rate increases to keep up with district expenses. He pointed to growth highlights completed in the past year, including replacement of the Flat Top Mesa water tank, replacement of failing water mains, and completion of a high pressure transmission line to the Bella Horizon area. Speedy replacement of a failed pump at the district’s highest producing well 31, prevented any interruption of water service to the town.
The district pumped 2.24 billion gallons of water to its users in the past fiscal year, with July 2017 the highest month of water usage at 232.28 million gallons. Total number of metered customers in the district grew 4.8 per cent to 9,244. Brown pointed out the fact that VVWD’s
water temperature is 80 degrees when pumped from the ground. This, along with corrosive
qualities of the mineral content of the water tends to shorten the life of infrastructure.
Brown looks optimistically to the current fiscal year, when he anticipates that the next district bond will be retired, dropping the per-user debt reduction fee to $8.30 per month. Many of the items in his forward look are near completion, including a search for a full time district engineer, readying well 27A and well 1A to go online, and purchase of a hydro-vac vehicle that will speed line replacement and provide a safer work environment for the staff.
The district is working toward drilling well 34 in Lincoln County, implementing a memorandum of understanding with Gold Butte National Monument, updating the VVWD water conservation plan and completing an agreement with Lincoln County Water District for additional water supply.
Board member Ben Davis expressed his satisfaction with the district’s well-implemented performance and called for approval of Brown’s report. It was accepted 5-0.
In its final action of the evening, the board heard from Brown concerning the design of plans for a booster station that would be placed near the Lincoln County/Clark County boundary. They approved expenditure of $81,500 for design, bid, permit and partial construction administration services for that station. The project was awarded to Franson Civil Engineering. That booster station will serve the Sun City area where growth and elevation require increased water pressure. A new water tank is slated for construction in that same area in the coming year, along with drilling of wells 34 and 35 that will eventually serve the northwest side of the city.
Board members questioned Brown and hydrologist Aaron Bunker concerning alternate water sources in the event that wells 34 and 35, projected for drilling in Lincoln County, would be delayed due to transmission rights of way obstacles. It was stated that other well sites are available south of the Virgin River where wells can be reactivated and linked to the system on current rights of way. Satisfied with that plan for redundancy of water sourcing, the board approved the engineering of the booster station.
Hydrologist Aaron Bunker reported that VVWD is waiting for the State lab reports of well 27A water purity so that the well can be put online. The VVWD precipitation gage on Virgin Peak is due for its periodic check. The district plans installation of a remote sensor for that gage this year, and must also complete a new right of way agreement with the BLM for the gage.