BPU Has Strong First Quarter

During the first quarter of the year, four of the five utility divisions for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities had a net income higher than what was projected.

On Monday, Mike Anderson, BPU business manager, presented a financial report on the first three months of the year. Of the five utility divisions – electric, district heating, solid waste, wastewater and water – only water had a lower net income than what was budgeted for the start of 2014. The net income for the water division was $54,000, which was $55,000, or 51 percent, less than projected. The BPU repaired 62 main breaks and 32 service leaks during the first quarter of the year. Last year, the utility company fixed 33 main breaks and six service leaks during the first three months. Total operating expenses were 9 percent higher; transmission and distribution increased 21 percent; and administrative and general costs jumped 10 percent over budget.

The financial news was better in the electric division. During the first quarter, the net income was $2,070,000, which was $712,000, or 53 percent, more than projected. Billed kilowatt hour sales increased 5.7 percent compared to 2013. Residential sales were up 12.9 percent, commercial sales increased by 4.3 percent and industrial sales went down 1.5 percent. Off system sales of $8 million were $4.2 million more than budgeted. Miscellaneous revenues totaled $426,000, which was $124,000, or 41 percent, more than budgeted.

The solid waste division’s net income was $277,000, which was $249,000 more than the budgeted amount of $28,000. Anderson said this was due to receiving grant revenues of 258,000 in January to offset the cost of three new recycling trucks purchased in December 2013. The grant was booked under miscellaneous revenues and not budgeted for 2014.

The wastewater division’s net income was $81,000 more than the budgeted amount, with a total of $131,000. The district heating division had a net income of $335,000, which was $26,000, or 8 percent, more than projected.

David Leathers, BPU general manager, said there seems to be no big fiscal concerns for the utility after the first three months of the year.

”Overall it is a strong start to the year,” he said.

The BPU board also received a report on the utility’s year-ending 2013 financial audit from Laura Landers, a certified public accountant for Freed Maxick. She said the BPU has a stable cash position for all five divisions. Also, she said all five divisions had a positive 2013. John Zabrodsky, BPU board chairman, read a statement from Finance Committee chairman Wayne Rishell, who did not attend the meeting. Rishell said it is always good following an audit when there are no adjustments to be made to financial figures. He added that it is also a good sign when the auditors do not ask for changes in how the financial information is collected for the audit.

In other business, Leathers said BPU officials will be undergoing another boiler conversion project in the future. In 2013, utility officials converted a coal boiler to a natural gas boiler. Last year, the BPU converted boiler No. 10. The future project will be the conversion of boiler No. 9. The project will cost around $2 million. More information will be available during the next BPU board meeting on Monday, June 23.

Leathers said the residential recycling credit program seems to be working. He said during the first eight weeks of the program, recycling on a weekly basis has increased to around 60 percent. Prior to the program, recycling was around 35 percent in the city. He said 80 percent of BPU customers received the credit the first time it was available.

In March, the BPU started tracking who recycles. Those who recycle were given a credit or discount on their solid waste bill. This month, the new monthly charge for solid waste was $20. However, if you recycle your bill was $10. The previous BPU rate for garbage and recycling collection was $12.10.

”We feel pretty good about where we have come in a short time,” Leathers