Water Works’ $1.12M budget leaves out raises
The Bath town council unanimously approved a $1.12 million operating budget for the Berkeley Springs Water Works – their public water utility – on Tuesday, August 17. The current budget marks a 15% increase over last year’s $963,400 budget.
While the budget didn’t include automatic raises for the water
company’s nine plant and office employees, finance chairman David Crosby said council could revisit their pay scale in December, half-way through the fiscal year. In recent years, employees have typically seen a 3% annual raise, according to Crosby.
“We have every intention of giving pay raises, depending on what we can afford and what is appropriate,” he said.
Mayor Susan Webster cautioned that council would be careful about raises for public employees in a time when taxpayers were struggling with their own lost or stagnant wages.
Several factors may push the town water company to move from quarterly to monthly billing for
their 1,650 customers. Water
Manager Terry Largent urged council to make the change, saying monthly tracking of water usage would help his department detect and fix smaller leaks and adjust customer bills more quickly.
Tom Close, the town’s accountant, also supported a monthly billing cycle. Close said most of the financial reporting he does for the town is
for monthly revenue and costs. Currently, he has to estimate that information from quarterly billing data.
Big leak tests new pipes
A major water leak in front of Douglas Motors two weeks ago
damaged the roadway so badly
that a contractor will be required
to fix it, said Terry Largent.
The leak was reported on Thursday, August 12 late in the evening and was finally repaired by 9 a.m. Friday morning, with a full crew working and flagging help from local fire departments. Largent said the Water Works lost roughly 750,000 gallons of water through the leak, but that town supplies rebounded quickly.
“That tells me the water project is working,” said Mayor Webster of the new water pipes throughout town. In past years, a leak of that size would have required water customers to cut back on usage until water reserves had been replenished.