October 3, 2013

Less 2014 revenue, expenses projected for water, wastewater

Budgets leave funds for capital improvement at LMU, superintendent says.

by Mitchell Kirk

---- — With decreases in projected expenses exceeding decreases in projected revenues for both the Water and Wastewater departments at Logansport Municipal Utilities for 2014, the superintendent says funds will be left over for capital improvements without affecting customers’ current rates.

Projected income for both departments dropped from last year, with the wastewater department coming in at more than $319,000 less than 2013 and the water department coming in at more than $232,000 less than 2013.

Notes accompanying the budgets state the reason for each drop: Water consumption decreased at LMU’s generating plant after the installation of a reverse osmosis unit, a water purification technology that requires less water.

“We essentially lost a huge water customer,” said LMU Superintendent Paul Hartman at a Utility Service Board meeting Monday.

While LMU’s water and wastewater departments may have lost a huge customer, its generating plant lost a huge expense. Hartman said the 2014 budget for the generating plant will be ready by next month’s meeting.

The amount of leachate — liquid pumped out of landfills — that the wastewater department receives to treat is also expected to drop next year, which was cited as another reason for the estimated decrease in the notes accompanying the budgets.

Estimated expenses totaled over $2.4 million less than estimated revenues for both departments combined. The largest figures contributing to this are the $344,960 cut from last year’s water department figures for treatment and purification after the city switched from treating river water to a well system, and the $64,130 cut from last year’s wastewater department figures for anticipated less equipment repair, the notes in the budget state.

With projected revenues exceeding projected expenses, Hartman said there would be funds left over for capital improvement projects without affecting customer’s current rates.

Todd Miller, a utility service board member, shared a similar sentiment at Tuesday’s Utility Service Board meeting.

“Revenue went down $300,000, but expenses went down more than that,” he said. “It shouldn’t negatively affect ratepayers.”

Although both departments’ projected total expenses is greater than what each is expected to bring in, expense increases in certain areas are still reflected in the budgets, like the $174,710 increase budgeted for the water department for extra labor, electricity and materials required by the well system.

More than $80,000 left over in the budgets — after money set aside for bond debt payments along with a transfer of more than $770,000 from the departments’ depreciation and replacement fund — will go toward capital improvement projects, according to the notes accompanying the budgets.

Among the capital improvement projects listed is about $10 million toward a federally-unfunded phosphate removal mandate Hartman said will need to be implemented within about the next three years and $225,000 for the drilling and creation of a new well.

The utility service board unanimously approved both budgets in the form of a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or Follow him: @PharosMAK

By the numbers LMU Water and Wastewater departments' 2014 budgets Water Department Projected income $232,825 less than 2013 Projected expenses $225,615 less than 2013 Wastewater Department Projected income $319,335 less than 2013 Projected expenses $44,025 less than 2013 Source: Logansport Municipal Utilities