PRWID Board Revisits Water Purchase Agreement Issues
The Price River Water Improvement District board addressed the agency's agreements with two cities on Tuesday.
One item related to a 2004 water purchase by Helper. The other matter related to the receipt of payments for water and sewer services in Wellington.
In summer 2004, Helper bought water from PRWID to supplement a shortage in the city water supply.
PRWID sold the water at a rate that was later determined to be too low.
Since the original agreement, PRWID presented Helper with an additional bill.
For several weeks, there has been an ongoing discussion about the increase in the bill and how the balance due was calculated.
A committee was established to propose a resolution.
A formula was established using the amount of water Helper used during the period in question, the gallons produced by the town's system, the amount of water supplemented by PRWID and the total number of hookups served by the city.
After a review, it was determined that Helper owes PRWID an additional $18,738 for the water purchased.
The determination raised questions about the formula used, how the numbers were determined, the volume of water the city produced within the period in question and how the matter could be best resolved.
Helper officials have proposed to temporarily sign over 200 shares of water to PRWID.
The proposal is that PRWID could lease the city's water out during a period of eight or nine years and keep the money to pay Helper's bill.
PRWID board member Karl Houskeeper questioned the district's willingness to use the water share lease money to stretch the payment over a period of eight or nine years.
Houskeeper pointed out that Wellington, where he serves as mayor, was given only a period of months to pay delinquent bills and he felt there are inequities in the way Helper's billing would be handled by the proposal.
Board member Tom Matthews explained that the Wellington and Helper situations are different.
Matthews said there had actually been a mistake in the bill sent to Helper and the city was now attempting to resolve the issue in good faith.
"Helper city feels that we don't owe anything. We paid the bill you sent the first time. We are just trying to work this out. We can go to court if you want," said Bonacci.
"PRWID quoted a price and you should stick with it. Someone needs to bite the bullet on this," added board member Tony Gonzales, who also sits on the city council in Helper.
PRWID attorney Nick Sampinos noted that a mistake had been made and Helper's offer, as presented, was a good way to resolve the issue.
Sampinos asked if the formula used to determine the addition to the bill was acceptable to both parties.
Bonacci said Helper had agreed to the formula as it was presented and the city's officials had agreed to pay the additional $18,000.
PRWID board member Keith Cox indicated that a new draft agreement could be drawn up by the attorneys and presented for both parties to sign.
The recommendation was passed as a resolution.
The focus at the Nov. 1 meeting then turned to the matter of allowing Helper to pay the bill through the leasing of 200 water shares.
PRWID assistant manager Jeff Richens said the water could be leased for an estimated $10 to $15 per share per year. Using the lowest figure, the payout of Helper's bill would take about nine years.
Matthews proposed that the board accept the draft agreement as explained, including the 200 water shares.
The resolution passed, with Houskeeper voting no.
Richens then explained that the agreement was only a settlement solution and not a long-term agreement. Cox said that the board would draw up a regular agreement with Helper to resolve any billing questions in the future.
PRWID manager Phil Palmer reminded everyone that the final agreement must first be approved by the Helper Council and then brought back to the PRWID board for final approval.
As a separate matter, the board addressed the issue of service agreements with Wellington and outstanding utility bills.
Houskeeper, said that Wellington was willing to accept a first proposal of the service agreement as it had been presented, but were unwilling to accept changes made in a second draft.
Sampinos told the board that addenda to the original agreement had not been made yet and the second document was only a committee proposal. Cox said that the board would need to review the original agreement again and he asked that a review be put on the agenda for the next board meeting.
The focus then turned to the issue of delinquent utility bills owed by Wellington, an amount which exceeds $100,000.
Richens told the board that the amount due was calculated on actual meter readings and an estimate of sewer usage based on a previous four month average. He reported that an agreement had been reached between Wellington and PRWID in February that the bill would be paid down by January 2006.
Houskeeper said that the water bill payments from Wellington were on track.
However, Richens said that the sewer bill was still six months in arrears. He also pointed out that in the agreement reached in February, both the water and sewer bills were to be presented for board review each quarter.
Cox said that according to the billing report, Wellington was not on track with their promised payments.
Houskeeper remained unchanged on his opinion of the payments, citing that according to the Wellington city recorder, Ken Powell, the payments were on track.
Cox then asked Richens to contact Powell to ask if the bill would be paid on time or not. He asked that the issue be put on the agenda of the next meeting and Richens is to report the outcome of his meeting with the Wellington city manager.
In an unrelated matter, the board considered a proposal to draft a subdivision approval letter. The letter had been requested by Carbon County as a way for PRWID to give preliminary approval for future subdivisions. Richens presented the board with a draft of a form letter for their review. The board discussed the procedures and the letter.
It was decided that a developer checklist will to be given to each developer planning to build in the county. The checklist will include PRWID and county requirements for water, sewer and fire flow. The developer will be required to present a development proposal to PRWID who will then review the plans and issue a letter of preliminary acceptance. The letter will be presented to the county planning and zoning board and will give cursory approval and list areas of concern or deficiency.
One item of debate was the use of standards. It was pointed out that PRWID, state and county standards are not always the same. The board agreed to ask the county for a list of county standards to be used in drafting the developer checklist.
Cox said that the board would review the county standards at the next board meeting. He said that PRWID approval for new subdivisions would come in two parts. The first letter would give only conceptual approval for the developer to take to the planning and zoning board. Then, after a zoning and planning review and a formal engineer study, the board will draft a letter of final approval.
Palmer added that a procedure should be established for the developer to sign for the checklist and information packet to prevent any misunderstandings and to be sure that a developer had copies of the standards and requirements. He said that the developer's signature would indicate intent to comply. He also stated that all issues should be fully addressed in the final approval letter.