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2018 Budget Approved by Lamar Utility Board

 

Lamar Light and Power Turbines

The LUB budget for 2018 was passed on a unanimous vote by the board during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, October 10th.   Houssin Hourieh, Lamar Light Plant Superintendent, also presented the budget to the Lamar City Council the night before.

The budget includes revenues in excess of $15.9 million, $14.8 million from retail electric sales and the balance from wind turbine production. Operating expenses for 2018 are at $13.2 million which includes $9.3 million for power supply.  Other expenditures include:  $1,101,208 for personnel costs; $1,604,400 for repairs and maintenance; Charter Appropriations of $1,647,903 which is the full 12% of retail sales as allowed by the Charter.  This is an annual payment made to the City of Lamar under the Charter.  Capital outlays totals $859,000 of which $100,000 is contingency funding, $202,000 for distribution line work, $125,000 for wind turbine parts and $432,000 for miscellaneous other equipment which includes SCADA system upgrade and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system.

In other action, the board accepted the low bid of $30,824.72 from Western United for 35’ and 40’ replacement wooden poles that will be used for stock inventory.

There was some lengthy discussion among board members on the annual write-offs for 2017. The uncollectible accounts for the year are $65,382.31 which represents 0.46% of the 2016 revenues of $14,035,953 according to Hourieh.  The annual budget for write-offs is $75,000.  Lisa Denman, Light Plant accountant said the level has fluctuated over the years.  “Two years ago it was at $50,000 but because of the increase of foreclosures and bankruptcies, we raised it to $75,000, although we did drop it by $5,000 a year ago.”  She and Linda Williams, Lamar City Clerk, explained that the accounts are turned over to a collection agency out of Fort Morgan.  Williams explained, “If we get a full payment within 30 days, we get to keep the full 100% of the payment.  If not, the collection agency takes a percentage of the payment as their fee.”  She said the city has developed several policies to prevent one family member at the collection address from opening a new account at the same residence, adding, “There are some circumstances when we ask that a written notice from the landlord is provided to us.”  She said that someone will come in to the city offices and ask to open an account at that address under a different name, and it usually happens one or two days after the power has been shut off at that address for non-payment.

Hourieh gave board members a breakdown on wind turbine performance, stating that through the end of August, turbines generated 7,065.45MWH’s of electricity which is about 3.10% higher than the same period in 2016. The wind turbine crew will perform the annual maintenance on all the turbines later this month.

The superintendent invited board members to attend a display of a proposed solar panel farm near Vilas, Colorado, Friday morning. The acreage is located off east Highway 160.  The next board meeting is set for Tuesday, October 24th at noon.

By Russ Baldwin

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