The Bristol County Water Authority board of directors approved next year’s operational and maintenance budget following a brief discussion Wednesday night, Jan. 16.
The $7,933,131 operational and maintenance budget is roughly two-thirds of the authority’s total $12 million budget for the fiscal year beginning March 1. The second largest chunk of the authority’s overall budget is $3.36 million of debt service.
The budget assumes an 11 percent rate increase as of March 1, which the board of directors approved earlier this month.
BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand said the budget contains money for salary raises of non-union employees though these bumps will require subsequent approval from the board of directors.
Accounting manager Marc Champagne said some non-union employees have gone as long as four years without a raise.
Union workers are currently under a collective bargaining agreement that does not grant a wage increase until a 2.25 percent bump in June 2014.
The budget also includes the filling of a vacant operator position, the addition of an operator position and the addition of an IT specialist position, along with about a half-year funding for a new project manager position.
Barrington director Kevin Fitta questioned $38,000 in the commercial and customer section for “provision of bad debts.” Mr. Champagne this is reserved to cover any losses from individuals who fail to make payment, such as apartment renters who may skip town.
Mr. Champagne said landlords could be held accountable for the debt. Attorney Sandra Mack agreed. She said the BCWA enabling legislation allows for a lien to be placed against property with an unpaid water bill.
Ms. Marchand said the authority has to look at impacts on customer service and billing to move from holding renters to landlords responsible.
Director Ray Palmieri, of Warren, noted a “miscellaneous” line is up 6 percent. He wanted more detail on that account, something Ms. Marchand said will be provided with a new computer system.
Director Robert Allio, of Barrington, said he and Mr. Palmieri reviewed the budget and it is necessary to support the BCWA’s recently adopted strategic plan. Mr. Palmieri and Mr. Allio serve on the board of directors financial sub-committee.