2022 Budget Overview

There are ways the 2022 planning process has resembled past budget cycles: standard cost of living adjustments, requests for new trucks and tools, tax allocation talks, capital project lists, and debates about paying for large projects out of cash reserves or borrowing to spread the costs out over time.

And then there’s broadband. By the end of 2021, the PUD will have applied for over $40M in federal and state funds to build fiber optic cable to over 4,000 rural homes and businesses in Jefferson County.

It’s possible the PUD could receive all $40M, or none of it, or more likely, some of it. Depending on its success with funding agencies, the PUD’s 2022 capital projects budget could be under $10M or approaching $25M (as shown below, it’s currently budgeted for $11.5M). According to General Manager Kevin Streett, even a few million awarded in funding will create big changes.

“Our smallest grant application has us installing fiber to over 200 homes. Still a big job. And with grants there’s a big cash outlay upfront before reimbursement,” said Streett.

Given the uncertainties around how much or little broadband projects will affect the PUD’s cash reserves in 2022, Streett and Finance Director Mike Bailey have inserted what they describe as “triggers” into the narrative of their capital budget proposal. “The triggers are intended to let the commissioners know that some projects can either be postponed or delayed a bit if revenues are down or expenses are up,” said Bailey. “Even if it’s in the approved budget, we have options.”

On the expense side of the budget, Streett said staffing levels will be another trigger. “We’ve proposed adding 3 new broadband positions, but depending on grants, it could be 1 from the start or all 3 but only in the last quarter.” Streett and Bailey have budgeted for 6 new positions in total for 2022, including a Finance Manager and another Lineman.

Tree trimming in 2022 is set at $800,000, the same as 2021, though up from $500,000 budgeted in previous years. The Water Department’s Capital projects budget, which will see improvements to a number of wells and well houses, is set at $633,105, similar to 2021’s $609,500.

As with 2021, 2022 will see rate increases set in for both water and electric services. A four year slate of increases was approved by the Commissioners in 2021 to help the PUD come closer to directly recovering the cost of each utility service. Sewer rates are expected to be revised before the end of 2021.



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