Brookfield WPCA Budget Narrative – FY2022-23

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 brookfieldwpca.org website.

Operations Staff and Building:

The WPCA has full responsibility for its own finances as a stand-alone Enterprise Fund of the
Town of Brookfield. The duties for the volunteer board have increased substantially over the
past several years with system growth. With the recent gain of customers, one half-time office
staff position was added in 2021 transitioning to a full time in 2022.

In 2018 the Commission occupied an Operations Center at 53A Commerce Road. The two-story
building includes 3000 sq ft of space and a fully equipped conference room to allow for virtual
meetings. It is financed with a 25-year conventional mortgage.

The Commission:

The Commission has six volunteer members. Most have served for several years. There are
currently two openings on the WPCA board. The Commission Chairman has been active with
the CT Counsel of Small Towns (ctcost.org) and is a member of the Board of the Connecticut
Water Environment Association (ctwea.org) that has a particular focus on wastewater and
waterbodies in the state. In March 2022 the Brookfield WPCA Chairman was appointed by the
CT House Majority Leader to Wastewater and Sewage Systems Working Group of the
Commission on Connecticut’s Development and Future.

As to outside services, the Authority uses engineering, accounting, billing, legal, technology and
other support services as needed. The engineering work includes maintaining and upgrading
the sewer layer on the GIS (Geographical Information System). The Commission attorney has
served the Brookfield WPCA for nearly 30 years providing expertise in a myriad of legal and
land use issues. He also has a valuable depth of institutional memory. The accounting firm, Bliss
Allred and Company, has served the WPCA for 7 years. The WPCA accounting system routinely
has been complimented by Town auditors.

Accommodating Growth:

Several important sewer system improvement projects were undertaken recently. These included
improvements in station electronic monitoring and the GIS system, making field service more
efficient with the use of wireless smart tablets to show what is underground from any spot in Town.

The Route 133 Pump Station has undergone a significant upgrade to handle growth in the
Town Center District including a larger tank to reduce pump cycling, a modern backup
generator and other enhancements to accommodate more efficient pumps in 2023.

Recent Initiatives

There were two Clean Water Fund (CWF) grants awarded in May 2019.
1) Facilities Plan took an extensive look at current operations and examined costs 5 and
10 years in the future to 2030. This planning study is required by State Statute. It was a
$300,000 program with 55% grant monies being returned. The Facilities Plan was
completed spring 2020 and is available online at https://brookfieldwpca.org/plan
2) Candlewood Lake Studies. This 2020 study examined the influence of septic
discharges on the lake and the well water supply on or near the Candlewood Peninsula.
The investigation captured the current situation and proposed ways to reduce E-coli,
phosphorus, nitrogen and PFAS contamination. This $320,000 study was also subject to
a 55% CWF grant from the CT DEEP. Details of the investigation can be seen online at
https://brookfieldwpca.org/candlewood

Two other study initiatives without grants were also recently completed.
3) Dean and Pocono Roads. This involved a study of the viability of capturing septic
system outfall for ninety 1950-era homes along the Still River. This study was
completed in cooperation with the Housatonic Valley Association with a specific focus
on the Still River watershed to reduce E-coli and nutrient contamination. It was
completed June 2020 and is available online at https://brookfieldwpca.org/dean
4) Brookfield Market Area. Various approaches to installing sewer service in the have
been investigated to design a value engineered system in this historical area.
Permission has been granted by the State to cross over the Route 25 bridge under the
pavement. This sewer extension would service only 9 properties near the Still River
with challenged septic systems. Since the cost is higher than these properties can be
assessed, a request has been made to the Town to sponsor some of the project.
A final design is slated to be presented to affected property owners Summer of 2022.
See https://brookfieldwpca.org/market

Recent Developments

Treatment Capacity:
The State requirements for each town to achieve a quota of Affordable and Incentive Housing
has upset the equilibrium of sewer capacity for small towns across the Connecticut. The high
density housing requires city water and sewer. Brookfield is no exception. In Brookfield,
sewers were originally intended to serve commercial growth. But the recent surge of housing
has consumed the treatment capacity to the point where the WPCA has had to declare a sewer
moratorium that limits allowable sewer flow by lot size, effective January 1, 2022. Brookfield is
working with neighboring towns to acquire more capacity, but for now available capacity is set
aside for projects already approved.

Planning Grant:
Brookfield has obtained a $1,500,000 planning grant to set a preliminary design with
engineering cost estimates to introduce a complete collection system for several communities
along the Still River at Dean and Pocono Roads and on the Candlewood Peninsula and
neighboring areas. The purpose is to capture wastewater with its pollutants and nutrients to
arrest pollution into the waterways and community wells. Part of this 2022 study will be to
determine how to handle the wastewater. One potential option is an in-town prepackaged, pre-
engineered waste treatment plant. Stand-by.

The WPCA Enterprise

The WPCA Enterprise Fund accounting is fully separated from the Town and on a full accrual
accounting basis. The WPCA is included as a fiscally independent business activity in the Town
audit. This is different from Town accounting using Revenue Fund rules.

Infrastructure costs must be fully funded by user rates. The Facilities Plan outlines future cash
needs for upgrades. With cash on hand and no rate change, it is predicted that the capital
reserve fund will be exhausted in the year 2025. Following the recommendations of the
Facilities Plan, capital needs are projected at $3.7 million for the next 8 years. But it is not
needed all at once. Consequently, a staged increase of $20 per unit per year is recommended
from the beginning if FY 2022 through FY 2025 to cover the cost of operations and collection
system capital requirements.

The other alternative to funding needed improvements would be to levy a special assessment
on users. Other towns have done that, but this has never been done in Brookfield. The opinion
of the Commission is that a special assessment is complicated and costly to manage.

Cost of Operations by Flow:

For the last several years produced approximately 320,000 gallons per day (0.32MGD). Prior to
last year there were few new customers to offset a loss of revenue from lost businesses, mostly
in the Town Center. Business closures, temporary and permanent, put a strain on the budget
with rising operations costs. For 2022 the number of units is projected to increase by 7 percent
with the addition of new housing set to open this year.

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. A revised
agreement anticipated in 2022 will allow a flow from Brookfield of up to 380,000 GPD (gallons
per day) down from 500,000 GPD. There will be new Phosphorous mitigation requirements
imposed on the Danbury Waste Treatment Plant. The Danbury Plant expansion does not qualify
for grants. The final cost and financing of the Brookfield portion is yet to be disclosed by
Danbury but is anticipated at roughly $4,000,000.

For the WPCA to cover the Brookfield cost share of the Danbury plant upgrade, an
additional $40 per unit per year is collected as a “Plant Charge” to generate a portion of the
needed funds. This fee increased modestly to $40 per unit per year starting in June 2021.
These funds are isolated in a separate account to partially cover the Brookfield portion of the
Danbury Plant expansion slated to be operational in the Summer of 2022.

Rate Structure:

Customer sewer rates are based on a “Unit” charge to fund operations as provided for by 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 has explored
charging by water usage for commercial customers. This strategy will require commercial
customers to install a water meter which is cumbersome and costly to implement. Only a small
fraction of commercial customers are on city water.

Covid-19 Impact:

It remains difficult to predict the impact of the health emergency. Several restaurants were
closed for a period of time, and many remain at reduced levels. The one motel in Brookfield
closed. The schools and many businesses have been at reduced operation levels but are still
contributing flow. Overall, the wastewater flows have not decreased during the pandemic. That
means costs have remained unchanged in spite of the economic slowdown.

Rate Setting:

The 2022 annual rate is set at $460 per unit with the $40/year Plant Charge. Projected staged
increases of $20 per unit per year will sustain the operations as required. Brookfield rates will
still be below the average CT state sewer charge. The full report is available at
https://brookfieldwpca.org/pdf/CT_Sewer_Rates_2019.pdf

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.

WPCA Budgeted Expenses FY 2021-2022

Cost Element

Cost in $, 000s

Percent of Total

Danbury Fees

$360

17 %

Plant Charge

$177

9 %

Employee Costs

$775

38 %

Operations

$301

15 %

Administration

$169

8 %

Contribution to Capital

$281

14%

Total

$2,063

100%

In round figures, the Brookfield WPCA has assets of $25 million. The WPCA holds $3.5 million
in bonds and loans against 4 discrete sewer districts. This requires a total of $470,000 in debt
service, principal and interest, funded by users in each 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.

Narrative Summary

As with any utility, the operation must be competent
● To sustain the business, provide value for a good cost at or below benchmark
● To invest in current technology to drive down unit cost and to scale well
● For delivery of quality, competent, trouble-free service in its operations, and
● To have friendly and patient customer relations.

Also, high values for the Commission are
● To fulfill its mission to avoid and reduce pollution from the Town of Brookfield into the
surrounding waterways.
● Transparency. Brookfield has the most complete website of any WPCA in CT.
● Integrity. All decisions are open to the public and finances pass intrinsic and extrinsic
audits.
● Financial Sustainability.
● Excellence in bringing the latest technologies to make the operations cost efficient. For
example, wireless tablets with real-time information allow the field staff to view
customer connections and all other system features on-the-spot. This GIS service allows
instant recording of observations with pictures giving an electronic record of on-going
and required inspections.

The WPCA Commission has given focus to its employees and continues to give this area focus—
a challenge for a volunteer board. Our goal is to conduct this enterprise so as to reflect positively
on the WPCA and Brookfield.

Download Recent Budgets as PDF:

 FULL 2018-19 BUDGET

 FULL 2019-20 BUDGET

 FULL 2020-21 BUDGET

 FULL 2021-22 BUDGET

 FULL 2022-23 BUDGET