Mary Fleming of Rural Community Assistance Corporation told of “very preliminary numbers,” and working with Assistant Clerk Kathy LeBlanc on the number of connections and to meet on a budget and the need to be as “realistic as possible.” She told of having taken three years of prior experience and getting water and sewer operator John Cussins’ input and forecasting five years out and using a 3% inflation formula.
Mary told of all operating costs and explaining reserve accounts using an operating budget of $174,765 and debt service of $61,954, a USDA water loan, for a total of $236,719.
Water rates now run short $150,000 annually and Mary told of trying to cut costs while increasing revenue. The rate is now $32.44/month and Mary told of a possible increase of $45-50/month for water alone. In comparing billings, she told of $25,000 a year not getting paid. If not getting collected, she told of the need to shut off water.
There was discussion over the use of existing meters and Mary explained an increase has to happen for safe, reliable water.
In the audience, Eileen Benson made a plea for those “broke and it would bankrupt.” Phyllis Mitchell questioned sewer rates. Mary called Loyalton “the kind of community we work with all the time.” Brooks Mitchell talked about the loss of the trailer park and 44 hook ups and how the smaller population pays a larger amount. Mary talked of a base rate increase immediately and to see if they can get more readable meters. She called Prop. 218 as “throwing a wrench on small communities.” The Council would put up a Prop. 218 hearing and would put it in effect 45 days after publication of a public notice. If it failed, they’d look at alternates not to cover as much. If the County were to take over it might be more reliable but she said rates would go “way up” to add county overhead costs. Rates will not go down, she emphasized.
There was talk of Loyalton being a disadvantaged community and looking at median household income and using Prop. 1 funding. Mary stated her first priority was sustainability of the water system and to do it as easily as possible for the residents but she called rates “artificially low.”
Mary introduced Karen D. McBride, Rural Development Specialist-Environmental who is State certified as a wastewater operator
Grade 2. She’s worked at RCAC 21 years and talked of transferring Cussins’ knowledge into a resource binder.
New to RCAC, Bridget Harris was also introduced in finance management with an MBA in finance. She came with her beautiful service dog, “Addie.”