Thunderbird water district passes ‘balanced budget’ with help of $5 surcharge

New facility at TFID. Photo by Michelle Chance

An area water utility board passed a 2017-18 budget after struggling for weeks to find a way to account for costs associated with recent improvements.

The Thunderbird Farms Water Improvement District Board passed the balanced budget Thursday.

After whittling down non-crucial costs associated with payroll, water treatment, office supplies and building maintenance, the board presented its third draft of the budget, which was in part balanced by a $5 “system upgrade surcharge.”

The charge, which has a 12-month life span, is estimated to bring in an extra $33,000 in revenue, more than half of which will go to service debt accrued as a result of improvements.

In all, the improvement project came in with around a $5 million price tag, half of which was paid with debt-free grants, leaving around $2.6 million to be paid out of the district’s budget in the future.

The Thursday meeting brought with it an air of cooperation and civility that had been lacking in previous meetings.

Moving forward, several attendees raised concerns about addressing the need for more scheduled maintenance instead of waiting for simple problems to become larger, more costly problems.

Board Chairman Patrick Lacey acknowledge planned maintenance is on the district’s agenda. Most of the issues, however, were inherited, he said.

“There’s a lot of things that should have been done,” Lacey said. “I’m a new guy on the block, and some of it’s been on my watch, but this has been pretty much my entire time here, is dealing with this project [sic].”

Once caught up with repairs, Lacey said, they will address valves and other items that are starting to show signs of stress but have not yet caused significant issues.

“It’s boiling streets we’re fighting right now,” Lacey Said. “We’re chasing leaks.”