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PUD cuts another $7.3 million from 2009 budget

Chelan County PUD
News Release
3/2/2009

With revenue forecasts dropping still further, Chelan County PUD supervisors and managers went back to their 2009 budgets last week and came up with about $7.3 million worth of utility work that will be delayed or canceled this year.

The amount brings total reductions in the 2009 budget since contingency steps were first announced to just over $26 million. Chief Finance Officer/Chief Risk Officer John Janney presented the update to the Board of Commissioners Monday afternoon along with Joe Jarvis, executive manager of Operations.

The board announced a proposed date for another public meeting to report to the community at 5:30 p.m. on March 16, with a location to be determined. General Manager Rich Riazzi will explain the latest financial outlook and answer questions from customer-owners. These evening meetings are intended to keep the community informed about the PUD’s changing financial outlook and the possibility of an electric bill surcharge. No decision on a surcharge has been made.

Among the cutbacks announced by Janney Monday are less tree-trimming this year, reduced educational programs at Rocky Reach Dam Visitor Center, scaled back pole-testing, bare-bones trail maintenance in parks, reduced overtime, return of underused vehicles to the central fleet so they can be used elsewhere  and limiting office moves and/or reconfigurations. Vital steps to meet requirements for protecting critical infrastructure will still be taken, as will scheduled overhaul of vital equipment and much of the work to meet relicensing requirements.

Any further cuts this year would likely affect reliability of PUD systems, said Jarvis. Janney explained that General Manager Rich Riazzi called all PUD supervisors and managers together the afternoon of Feb. 20 to ask them to look closely at their budgets for more cuts, and that they responded with $7 million in suggestions that could be tolerated this year but probably not over the long term. Employees continue to make further suggestions that will be looked at by managers.

After hearing the report from Janney and Jarvis, board members Norm Gutzwiler and Ann Congdon suggested commissioners take a look at their own budget to see if cuts can be made. The board has an all-day retreat scheduled March 13 at the North Central Regional Library Headquarters to discuss strategic planning, and the budget may be discussed then.

In other action, commissioners:

  • Heard from Steve Currit, director of Shared Services, that the Wenatchee Row and Paddle Club is prepared to sign an agreement with the city of Wenatchee to use a metal building near the corner of Ninth and Walla Walla streets for storage of non-motorized craft launched at the nearby dock at the Linden Tree area of Riverfront Park. The club has outgrown the space available in the Lindston Barn and has been looking for a place to expand. If approved by resolution next week, the PUD would grant a five-year permit to the city for $2,240 per year. The city, in turn, would allow the Row and Paddle Club to use the building. The permit could be renewed one year at a time after the five years if both sides desire.
  • Heard that the PUD’s Annual Report for 2008, titled “Power +” is expected to be available online in April, with hard copies available by request after that. Costs will be reduced by an  estimated $1,000 by printing only as many copies as are requested.
  • Set a special meeting at 5:30 p.m., March 16, at a location still to be determined, for the purpose of reporting to the community on the PUD’s financial outlook and the possibility of an electric bill surcharge.

***

The next regular meeting of the PUD Commission is at 11 a.m. on Monday, March 9, in the boardroom at PUD Headquarters, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
Most PUD commission meetings are recorded, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at
www.chelanpud.org.

For further information, contact:
Steve Lachowicz
Director, Communications
509 661-4639
Steve.lachowicz@chelanpud.org

Link to board meeting.