BPW approves rate increase

The Bamberg Board of Public Works received a “Qualified Opinion” on its June 30, 2010 audit report at its August commission meeting. In issuing the qualified opinion that was “materially correct” H. Del Brown, CPA with McGregor and Co., LLP of Barnwell noted that a qualified opinion means that “everything is good except for……. The one item missing from the BPW audit was post employment expenses and other liabilities for retirees in this case (health insurance on retirees) that was not possible to determine at this time. “They are looking for all liabilities to be funded,” Brown said referring to the new Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) regulation.

“From ya’ll standpoint that is all that is affected by this that we can come up with, health insurance issues,” Brown said. BPW General Manager Bruce Ellis noted the rating could affect the BPW’s ability to borrow money if needed in the future. “If we wanted to go out and get a bond it could affect us,” Ellis said.

Brown reported the BPW had “just over” $6 million in net assets and $18.5 million in (non-current assets) for a total of $24.7 million in net assets. He noted that $17.5 million of the non-current assets were in property and equipment.

According to the report the BPW had total liabilities of $1.1 million. The company has $6.2 million in unrestricted funds “at this time” while the rest is restricted or in property and equipment. Under statement of revenues, expenses and fund balance the utility company recorded operating revenues of $7,367,000 and operating expenses of “just over” $8.5 million resulting in an operating income loss of $1.2 million for the year. The department experienced a $1.365 million (depreciation) on fixed assets, property and equipment that was noted was (not a cash flow operating expense.)

Under non-operating revenues the BPW made payments in-lue of taxes to the City of Bamberg for $152,000 for the year. For the year as a whole the BPW had a reduction of cash of ($216,000).

Also during their August meeting Bamberg Board of Public Works Commissioners approved a 2011-2012 budgets of $9,923,415. The budget included a three percent cost of living increase for its employees and a rate increase for customers. In explaining the reason for the rate increase BPW General Manager Bruce Ellis noted: “Everything is going up, materials, gas and electricity, raw products all going up.” He said the company’s contracts with SCE&G and Santee Cooper are almost up and “they will be going up,” on their rates. Ellis did not have the specific rate increases at the meeting, but said that information would be forth coming.

“We will tweak it a little bit, we’re looking at anywhere from five percent to 10 percent and some maybe 12 percent,” Ellis said in noting the BPW has “so many different types of rates” for example flood lights range from 100 watts to 250 watts and could see a five percent to 10 percent increase in electricity rates.

In other items noted in the 2011-12 budget the BPW is looking at using $450,000 of its reserve funds for capital improvements to get through the current fiscal year. The BPW is looking at increasing its contribution to the City of Bamberg’s General Fund from $150,000 to $200,000 next year in what is called a “one time-one year increase.” "The City was in somewhat of a financial bind, we helped bail them out, this is a one time-one year increase,” Ellis said.

It was noted that one of the “biggest expenses” the BPW will incur this year is supplying infrastructure to the new elementary school in terms of electricity, water, sewer and gas estimated to cost over $500,000. It was noted that the cost of supplying the infrastructure to the new school would be appreciated out over time with north side of town receiving the benefit of higher water pressure and an improved ISO rating.

“We’ll get some use out of it, more water pressure to that whole side of town and lower ISO rating.”

The budget approved by the BPW Commissioners also included $10,000 for term life insurance for one year for retirees that are not covered now under the new policy. It was noted that “a couple” retirees could not be covered because of their age and health condition. “I think that is the least we can do,” Commissioner Buzzy Bunch said.