BPW proposes 3.2 percent cost of living adjustment

Bamberg Board of Public Works Commissioners received information at their August 2, monthly meeting on the proposed 2010/2011 BPW Budget of $9,314,415 that included a 3.2 percent cost of living adjustment for workers and a “slight rate increase ” for its customers.

BPW General Manager Bruce Ellis said the city-owned utility company had not seen an increase in rates in a couple of years and still had rates “equal or below” the rates for water and waste water for the size and type of system of any town in South Carolina.

“Even though we will need to have a slight increase our rates, we are still the lowest in the county and in the lowest five percent in the state, we’re still way below average,” Ellis said.

In presenting an overview of the proposed 2010-11 budget BPW finance manager Will Martin noted that the company’s $4.7 million reserve fund was 14 percent short of reaching the recommended reserve fund level of $5.4 million.

It was noted that this was important because the company needed so much in reserve to be able to pay its bill to Santee Cooper for natural gas if something happen to its biggest customer Roc lon Industries of Bamberg.

“We have to have a cushioning amount of money in reserves,” Ellis said. Ellis said that in 2002 the company had “a pretty good” bit of reserves built up and did some capital expenditures including a waste water treatment plant that went from a capacity of one million gallons –to- three million gallons, with the capability to go to five million gallons if a big company would come to Bamberg or this area.

“We’re setting on ready if an industry came in and needed one million gallons of water per day, we could do it,” Ellis said. Adding the only work still needed to be done was the discharge.

Also during his presentation Martin noted that since 2001 the City of Bamberg added 35 percent or $225,000 to its reserve fund, while the Board of Public Works added one percent or $55,000 to its reserve fund.

Martin also reported that the BPW transferred $249,052 total contributions to the city of Bamberg during the time frame.

BPW General Manager Bruce Ellis said BPW's budget was a lot different from the city of Bamberg’s budget. “Ours is a business,” Ellis said. “There is not a lot of control over items like natural gas, chemical cost and electricity to pump water,” Ellis observed, adding that BPW had not bought a truck in three years. “We’re going to have to buy a truck this year,” he said.

In other business:

. Commissioners approved a resolution recognizing the life and service of the late Commissioner Buddy Sandifer.