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Finalizing the annual budget and streamlining the monthly services billing process were the primary topics of business during a Chester Public Utility District meeting held in the latter part of July.
The consolidated district maintains separate budgets for the divisions of water, sanitation, streetlights and fire.
For the fiscal year running from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, the projections for the water budget prepared by the board of directors reveal a positive of $29,010 for the division. Overall, the district water division expects to receive $426,110 in revenue and to pay expenditures in the amount of $397,100.
The fire division, on the other hand, is expected to run $19,100 in the negative by the close of the fiscal year.
Board president Joe Waterman advised that the negative balance would be fully covered by the newly established reserve account. The 500 Account is projected to net $169,800 in revenue and pay $144,667 in expenses. This would leave the projected balance of $25,133 to cover the fire division shortfall and any unanticipated expenses.
Sanitation, by far, generates the highest amount of revenue for the district while incurring the least expense. It is anticipated that after paying all operational costs, this division will begin the new fiscal year with a projected balance of $275,100.
At the end of the budget presentation resident Steve Trotter asked, “Are there any supporting documents to support the budget?”
“This is a compilation of the budget figures put together by staff,” director Wes Scott replied.
Trotter then requested a copy of the backup documents.
“A copy of the documents will be generated for you,” Waterman said.
The board then voted unanimously to approve the 2013-14 fiscal budget.
Waterman next introduced the topic of a proposed billing system for the district utilizing the contracted services of Payment Service Network, the company that has made a proposal to process credit cards for the district.
Waterman asked office manager Cheryl Johnson to explain how the service would work.
In summary, she said customers would go to the PSN website where they could pay water or sewer bills by either debit or credit card.
“People can also request online billing rather than paper bills. With this system, the district would not receive checks but a deposit report from the company,” she added.
In addition to the staff time saved in preparing and processing the monthly billings, Johnson said savings would also be realized in the cost of the mailings.
“They don’t nickel and dime us. We would save 5 cents per post card and 35 cents to mail the same card,” she said.
PSN will charge the district 50 cents for each e-check.
“Contracting with this company would save the office a ton of time, the hours are huge,” Waterman said.
Waterman also said he was very impressed with the vendor and how he conducted himself: “very upfront, sensitive to the needs of the district.”
“The company will do all the marketing and there is a very low start-up fee,” he added.
He said customers that do not have a computer could telephone in with their credit cards to PSN.
The proposal was only a discussion item at the meeting; the board will vote on the PSN proposal at its next regular board meeting.
“What’s the downside?” asked director John Knopp.
“The cost. And I figure we would recoup our cost if 72 people sign up for e-billing,” Waterman replied.
“The company has an A-plus (rating) with Better Business Bureau,” Johnson said.
Resolution 352, the leasing of CPUD’s spare ambulance to High Desert State Prison, was the final action item approved on the agenda and Capt. Chris Dean offered background.
“High Desert wants to continue to lease the ambulance from CPUD and may want to extend the time indefinitely.
“Currently, they have a proposal to extend the contract 49 days and are working on a contract for a 99-day extension.
“My contact believes they will blow through both contract periods and will request a further extension,” Dean said.
The state of California pays CPUD $100 a day for the rental of the ambulance. The contract restricts the use of the ambulance to the prison grounds only. It is not permitted to enter state or county roadways.
“We are paid $100 a day and the ambulance drives no further than 1-1/4 miles a day. It is only used to transport inmates from the yards to the prison infirmary,” Dean said.
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