The Phelps County Public Water Supply District (PWSD) #4 board met on Monday night, noting that improvements have been made. The district, which is facing bankruptcy if things can’t be turned around, had a productive month in collecting delinquent payments in July, but still faces many challenges as grinder pumps continue to break and costs for repair keep rising.
Last month, Don Holt offered his services to fix many of the problems left by the previous contractor. Holt has been working to find trouble areas in the system and repair what he can.
“A lot of people don’t pay their bills and we don’t have a surplus of these pumps because we don’t have the money to keep them right now,” Holt said. “That’s our goal. If you call at 3 p.m. with a problem, we want a pump ready to be installed.”
Infiltration has been a problem, with additional water from downspouts and other areas getting into the system. These areas will need to be identified to stop extra infiltration, which causes stress on the system.
“The more it rains, the more issues we have. Maintenance and repairs go up,” board member John Staples said.
The board moved to have Doug Counts take over for Holt, who wanted to concentrate on his business. Counts works for the St. James Municipal Utilities and would offer his assistance on repairs and maintenance when not working for the city. Counts would be paid $25 per hour, half of Holt’s fee, and is certified to work on the system.
As for the financial situation facing the board, there were encouraging changes in June. Total cash came to $12,185, which was slightly up from May. Accounts receivable were down, with more district customers paying their bills from previous months. Delinquent customers have been contacted and the district is hoping to work with them in getting caught up, which will bring in more cash.
“Repairs and maintenance were over budget again,” board secretary Sheila Flint said. Costs of repairing the system is the key factor in the financial crisis facing the district, but new companies are being used for better equipment.
Board members feel there are some improvements that have been made and will continue to seek areas to conserve money. An old, unused generator could be sold for a little additional income as well as vacant property, which the district could put a lien on for non-payment of utilities. The board is currently working to secure a loan, which could also assist getting the district in working order.