Foss rates for member cities holding
Foss Reservoir water customers got more good news at this month’s meeting of the Master Conservancy District board of directors. Once again, there apparently will be no rate increases to the district’s four member cities.
“My recommendation is to continue with the rates as they were last year,” said Shawn Dewees, manager of the district’s water treatment plant, in presenting his proposed budget for 2018. “I think we should hold them where they are as long as we can.”
Dewees got no arguments from the district’s board members, one of whom had already announced as the meeting was getting underway that they were operating that night on “ESPN Time,” a reference to that night’s televised college football national championship game. In other words, keep the conversation short. But there also were good reasons for the no recommended rate increases.
Among other things, the proposed budget showed that the district took in right at $480,000 more during calendar year 2017 than it spent.
A new budget of just under $2.8 million was adopted for 2018 that was $115,000 below that for 2017. But it was still $624,000 above the final estimate for 2017 expenses. Assessments for each of the four member cities will show very little difference from what they paid last year. Clinton’s will be $965,984, up about $7,800; Hobart’s $675,258, up about $1,700; Cordell’s $265,085, down about $560; and Bessie’s $29,869, also down $560.
“I went back through the contract and got more precise percentages,” Dewees said in explaining why Clinton’s and Hobart’s are up and Cordell’s and Bessie’s are down. Apparently the old amounts were set on rounded figures.
Assessments are what each city must pay regardless of whether it takes the water it’s obligated to buy or not. For decades, when this area was ravaged by drought, Clinton for example was happy to pay its assessment and in fact often bought more than twice as much water as it was required to take. But since October it has not taken any of the assessment water it’s paying for, since its supplies are ample and the holding tanks are full.
The mandatory assessments were set up decades ago when Foss Reservoir was built to assure that there would be sufficient money to operate it.
For the four cities combined, the annual assessment is just under $2 million.
In non-financial news, Dewees announced at the meeting that the elevation of the lake continues to hold at slightly more than 1,641 feet above sea level. He said it was at 1,641.29 when December began and 1,641.27 when it ended.
He also said no water was released during the month into the Washita River.
The highlight of Monday’s meeting was supposed to be a final report from Duane Smith on the district’s drought contingency plan that was developed under his direction over an 18-month period encompassing all of 2016 and the first half of 2017. A draft of the 114-page plan had been presented to the board last June.
However, Smith said at that time a copy would also be given to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which owns the reservoir and provided half of the $400,000 that the plan cost. He said the Bureau could add its own revisions before the plan became final.
Monday night, Dewees announced that a letter had been received from the Bureau of Reclamation about the plan and there are “issues that have to be worked out with the Bureau.”
He indicated Smith’s final report would be postponed until the next meeting on Feb. 12.