Brookfield WPCA Budget Narrative – FY2019-20

Introduction:

It is useful to offer a narrative to accompany the budget to tell the story behind the numbers. There is much more on the activity of the WPCA at the new www.brookfieldwpca.org website.

The Commission:

The commission has eight volunteer members. Most have served for several years. There will be one opening on the WPCA in 2019 due to relocation.

As to outside services, the commission uses engineering, accounting, legal and other support services as needed. The engineering firm has quite a bit of depth, serving several states. Their work includes maintaining and upgrading the sewer layer on the town GIS system. The commission attorney has served the Brookfield WPCA for more than 20 years providing expertise in land use issues. He also has a valuable depth of corporate memory. The accounting firm, Bliss Allred and Company, has served the WPCA for 4 years. The WPCA accounting system routinely has been complimented by Town auditors.

Operations Staff and Building:

The WPCA has tripled in the number of customers and infrastructure over the last 16 years, doubled in the last 8 years. It also has all responsibility for its finances, including payroll, increasing the work load for its original four employees. Four years ago a half-time field staff position was added. The plan is to transition to a full-time field employee during 2019. Last year a new part-time director position was filled with the work load for the volunteer board having increased substantially over the past several years with system growth.

Additional revenue from growth has covered the cost of added staff and a vehicle. With a part- time Director, theoriginal 285 sqft office space was inadequate in the Town Hall. Consequently, the commission acquired an operations center at 53A Commerce Road. The two-story building includes 2,500 sqft of office space, a storage mezzanine and 500 sqft of unfinished area. This allows all employees to be co-located. The office building is financed with a 25-year conventional mortgage and adds 1.5% to the WPCA budget. This expense is absorbed by the increase in the number of customers, principally in the Town Center District.

Accommodating Growth:

Several significant capital improvement projects were undertaken.

● A project at Rollingwood was completed in 2018, and designed to take advantage of recent system expansions to re-route to a full gravity system, eliminating a troublesome
condo association pump station. The construction was completed below budget. The
cost is divided among affected unit owners proportioned by their Grand List Value.

The borrowed funds are now converted to long term bonds.

● The North Pump Station, at the New Milford town line, and the station behind 777 Federal Road were both running at 50% capacity for normal operations during working hours as seen by the on-line data capture system. With recent and planned growth from several new condo and apartment projects in the Four Corners area, these two stations were upgraded in 2017. The work was funded as capital improvements by the Federal Road North District users, current and future.

New Initiatives

Actually, there are no new infrastructure sewer projects on the drawing board for the first time in a decade. There are two Clean Water Fund (CWF) grants and another grant to take advantage of Federal funds. The CWF grants were approved in May 2019.

  1. Facilities Plan to look at current operations and projects costs 5 and 10 years in the future. A Planning Study is required by State Statute. It is a $300,000 program with 55% grant monies being returned. Approval was granted in April 2019.
  2. Candlewood Lake Studies. This will involve the 5-towns bordering the lake and other stakeholders. The study will capture current state, and propose ways to reduce E-coli and Phosphorus contamination. This $320,000 study is partially funded by a 55% CWF grant from the CT DEEP, also awarded in April 2019.
  3. Study the viability of capturing septic system outfall for over 901950-era homes
    along the Still River on Dean and Pocono Roads. This study is in cooperation with the Housatonic Valley Association with a specific focus on the Still River watershed. It is
    the subject of a pending 60% Federal grant administered CT DEEP. This grant is scheduled to be awarded September 2019.

The WPCA Enterprise

The WPCA Enterprise Fund is fully separated from the Town and on a full accrual accounting basis. Nevertheless, the WPCA is included as a fiscally independent business activity in the Town audit. This arrangement is in place at the request of the Office of the Controller and Auditors in keeping with government Enterprise Fund accounting rules.

Unrestricted funds are broken down into Operating and Capital. This is a budgeting and reporting method useful to the Commission to monitor finances.

The sewer usage fee was set in June 2012 at $380 per unit per year to fully cover increasing depreciation and Danbury treatment fees. (A household is one unit.) The usage fee increased to $420 per unit in June 2017. This 10.5% jump amounted to about 2% annual increase over the previous 5-year span. This rate still allows sustainable operations, including the ability to make infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the upkeep and growth in system use. No rate increase is planned this year.

Cost of Operations by Flow:

At the end of 2018 there were 4,102 units producing approximately 310,000 gallons per day (0.31MGD). That is a 7% increase with the addition of Town Center District buildings and Oak Meadow Town Homes. New customers offset a loss or revenue from the lost businesses.

All sanitary wastewater flow is sent to the Regional Danbury Waste Treatment plant under the supervision of the CT DEEP and by an Interlocal Agreement with Danbury. The agreement allows a flow from Brookfield of up to 500,000 gallons per day. But this is slated to be reduced to 380,000 gallons per day in 2022 with new Phosphorous mitigation requirements imposed on the Danbury Waste Treatment Plant. Brookfield is sending waste at an average rate of 86% of the new allowable flow. The Danbury Plant expansion will cost Brookfield a projected $2,830,000 after grants are applied. These grants are promised, but not guaranteed. The cost is anticipated to be covered by a 20-year loan by the state at 2% interest.

For the WPCA to cover Brookfield’s engineering cost share an additional $34 per use unit peryear is collected as a “Plant Charge.” These funds are isolated in a separate account. With a March 2019 update in the plant upgrade status, funds are now not needed immediately. Some funds were parked in a CD.

Rate Structure:

Customer sewer rates are based on a “Unit” charge to fund operations, one option provided forby State Statute. Each household is one unit. Commercial establishments all have a formula to determine the usage rate according to WPCA Rules and Regulations. The Commission is exploring charging by water usage for commercial customers. This strategy will require commercial customers to install a water meter.

The entire unit-based billing system is under review by the current Facilities Planning study now in progress. At the unit rate of $420 per year per household unit, 75% or $310 covers the annual cost of WPCA operations and only 25% based on usage.

Budget Summary:

The operating budget in a simple form can be divided into five categories. See the table below. The Administration category includes outside legal, accounting and audit costs.
In round figures, the Brookfield WPCA has assets of $25 million. The WPCA holds $6 million in bonds and loans against 7 discrete sewer districts. Two of these districts are debt-free. This requires a total of $650,000 in debt service, principal and interest, funded by users by

sewer district. Funds to pay each bond note or to make upgrades within each sewer district are kept separate and restricted bank accounts as required by Resolution. User obligations are attached to land records, virtually assuring collection.

WPCA Budgeted Expenses FY 2019-2020

Cost Element

Cost in $, 000s

Percent of Total

Danbury Fees

$340

21 %

Employee Costs

$638

39 %

Operations

$533

33 %

Administration

$145

9 %

Contribution to Capital

$(38)

-2 %

Total

$1,618

100%

Download Budgets as PDF:

 FULL 2016-17 BUDGET

 FULL 2017-18 BUDGET

 FULL 2018-19 BUDGET

 FULL 2019-20 BUDGET