- Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 05:46
- Published on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 05:46
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Fairview Beach well and water tank projects, and Dahlgren WWTP upgrade going forward
The King George Service Authority board last week approved an updated 2014-18 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) totaling $6,612,500 over the next five years as a planning guide for upgrades to the water and waste water facilities for the current year and future years.
The plan had been distributed and reviewed by the board at earlier meetings including work sessions during the budget process.
The action on Sept. 3 provided formal approval, with Dahlgren representative Ruby Brabo voting against it. Brabo likewise voted against approval of three projects for funding in the current 2013-14 fiscal year.
There are no projects on the list to expand the areas served by the Service Authority. Instead, most of the projects are required to keep up with the state’s Department of Environmental regulations, which continue to become more stringent. The rest of the projects are to improve service to customers within the existing service areas.
Brabo voted against the projects saying, “My feeling is that there appears to be no real consideration by this board for the unfair debt burden being borne by only 15 percent of the population.” She added that projects should be “covered by all of the residents and not just the customers.”
Those who have wells and septic systems may not agree that they should also pay higher real estate taxes to go toward equipment replacement and upgrades to water and sewer systems for customers of the Service Authority. Residents with their own wells and septic systems do not get financial assistance from the county or its customers when they need repairs, a new well or a septic pump-out.
DAHLGREN WWTP EQUIPMENT UPGRADES
One of the three projects going forward in the current fiscal year is in Dahlgren for a required upgrade to the Dahlgren Wastewater Treatment Plant. That project is currently out for bid with responses due in early October.
It includes the purchase, installation and replacement of various equipment for nutrient removal, along with cleaning of existing equipment.
It is described in the invitation to bid as, “Removal of an auger/grinder influent screen and replacement with a new step screen, cleaning of debris from the existing equalization basin and oxidation ditch, installation of two new turbo blowers and associated valves, piping and appurtenances, installation of new IFAS de-nitrification modules, new real time nutrient analyzers, and upgrades to the existing instrumentation and SCADA system.”
The budget for that project is $1,000,000. The upgrade is expected to be funded by the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Fund proceeds and with funds available through a state Water Quality Improvement Fund grant.
FAIRVIEW BEACH WELL & WATER TANK PROJECTS
The other two projects are in Fairview Beach having to do with water service. Neither project extends the service area.
Both of the projects have already been bid, with contracts authorized at the meeting on Aug. 6, in accordance with funding initially approved in 2011 from the Virginia Resources Authority.
One project is for a replacement well and related equipment and installation that was awarded to A.C. Shultes, Inc. of Maryland in the amount of $119,000.The second Fairview Beach water phase I improvements is a project for a water tank and related equipment and installation that was awarded to Franklin Mechanical Contractors, Inc., in the amount of $2,152,449.00.
SERVICE AUTHORITY FACTS
The King George Service Authority is a small enterprise that owns and operates 12 water systems and five wastewater systems in specific areas of the county. It does not benefit from the economies of scale advantages provided to larger systems.
The most recent audit from 2011-12 indicates 3,862 water customers, with fewer than half of those with water-only service.
That audit also indicates 2,090 sewer customers, only a few sewer-only customers. It was formed in 1992, when the county’s separate sanitary systems were united. At the same time, private water systems were purchased to meet the demands of state regulations on localities for Virginia’s evolving standards required for community water systems.
The Service Authority is intended to be self-supporting by user fees charged to its customers for water, sewer and debt service.
For years, the Service Authority had relied on the use of connection fees to fund the operating budget. That was not a sustainable way of doing business, but it worked for awhile.
Using connection fees to fund operations appeared to be sustainable while the locality and economy were experiencing big growth, with all revenue sources on the rise during that time, both for the county and the Service Authority, with lots of new utility connections.
After the housing bubble burst in 2008, it become very clear that using connection fees to sustain the operating budget was not working. It had necessitated annual transfers from the county to fund debt service and some other expenses.
But that subsidy was eliminated over a five-year period. In conjunction with that, the Service Authority Board has been following a recommendation by financial consultant Davenport & Associates since 2009, to annually inch up rates to have enough revenue coming in from user fees to cover the day-to-day operating costs of doing business.
The upcoming audit for the last fiscal year, 2012-13, is anticipated to show a small surplus by the Service Authority and will allow it to continue to set aside connection fees solely to fund upgrades, large maintenance emergencies, and possible expansion of its service area in the future. Debt service fees go to fund the repayment of loans for capital maintenance projects.