October 25, 2023, Board Meeting Open Session Q&A
November 03, 2023
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS PRESENTED AT SEPTEMBER MONTHLY BOARD MEETING:
Norma R: I was here at the last meeting, and I had asked about the budget for continuing education that was listed at $24,800. I asked, what is this for and you told me for licenses, and I said what kind of licenses? Then when you published the answers a week later, you said there are 17 licensed individuals. I would like to know what these licenses are, every single one specifically. I would like to know what the timeframe for continuing education is. Is it one year or is it two years?
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the funds we allocate for continuing education, particularly in the area of water certifications. We greatly appreciate your interest in this matter, and I'm happy to provide you with the information you requested.
Our investment in continuing education and water certifications, such as Class D, Class C, Class B, and Class A, is a crucial aspect of our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of excellence in water treatment and ensuring the well-being of our community. KWSC employs two Class A licensed employees, 2 Class B licensed employees, 7 Class C licensed employees and the remaining 6 are working on their Class D license. Each employee is provided with one course per year to maintain their license.
In addition to certification courses, office staff and management attend trade shows annually to stay informed about legislative changes, accounting changes, etc. As explained in our prior response, the continuing education budget also covers monthly safety meeting expenses, travel and lodging expense for classes and reserves funds for Board of Director’s training. For the 2023 Fiscal Year, KWSC used $15,917.29 of the allowed $24,800 budget.
Let me elaborate on these certifications and the associated benefits:
Class D Certification: This serves as an entry-level certification and provides the foundational knowledge required to work in a water treatment plant. It covers essential principles and basic operational tasks, ensuring that our employees have a strong starting point in their careers.
Class C Certification: This is the minimum requirement for individuals to work in a water treatment plant. It signifies a more advanced level of expertise, covering a wider range of responsibilities, including water quality monitoring, regulatory compliance, and equipment operation. Maintaining Class C certification is essential for us to meet regulatory requirements and ensure the safety and quality of our water supply.
Class B Certification: Employees with Class B certification have demonstrated a higher level of expertise and can handle more complex tasks within a water treatment plant. This certification involves in-depth knowledge of water treatment processes, system maintenance, and troubleshooting. It empowers our team to respond effectively to various operational challenges.
Class A Certification: Class A certification represents the pinnacle of expertise in the field of water treatment. Individuals with this certification have a deep understanding of water treatment principles, system design, and complex problem-solving. They are vital for overseeing critical aspects of our water treatment operations, ensuring optimal performance and adherence to the highest industry standards.
Investing in employee growth and training provides numerous benefits, including:
Morale Boost: Offering opportunities for professional development and career advancement demonstrates our commitment to our employees' growth. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and a more positive work environment.
Retention: Employees who receive training and have a clear path for advancement are more likely to stay with the organization. This reduces turnover and the associated costs of recruiting and training new personnel.
Enhanced Performance: Well-trained and certified employees are more capable of performing their duties effectively and efficiently. This translates into improved operational outcomes, such as better water quality and regulatory compliance.
Innovation: Continuous education encourages employees to stay updated with the latest industry trends and best practices. This can result in innovative solutions to challenges and opportunities for process optimization.
Community Well-being: Ultimately, our investment in employee training and certifications directly benefits the community we serve by ensuring the safe and reliable provision of clean water.
In conclusion, our commitment to ongoing education and certification in the field of water treatment is a vital component of our mission to provide high-quality water services to our community. It not only benefits our employees but also contributes to the well-being and safety of those we serve.
If you have any further questions or would like more detailed information on this topic, please feel free to reach out.
Thank you for your continued support and interest in our operations.
My other question is, the Stage 4, when will that be taken off? What is the update this because you said that you would revisit that, and we haven’t heard anything.
KWSC staff and Board have been continuously monitoring the drought situation (rainfall and lake level) and continues to do so. From the initial implementation of the Drought Contingency Plan, KWSC has stressed that lake levels have to rise significantly and the construction at the water treatment plant must be completed before. We will continue to monitor the situation and update through the alert system.
My last question would be what is the maintenance plan for Kempner Water? Right after we had the last big leak, there was another line that broke. I don’t know where the money goes, and I really would like to know an itemized copy of the entire budget. Thank you.
The maintenance plan continues to be checking for leaks, repairing, and replacing lines where needed. We are getting faster at getting these repairs completed. We also have a person on staff that is getting their welding certification to be able to repair these very large concrete lines. It would be impossible to shut down and go up and down the inside of the lines looking for corrosion or potential leaks. Line leaks are not necessarily line breaks but as you know, leaks get bigger over time and these concrete lines are only repaired by replacing sections. These lines are very robust and require a robust repair. That is why it takes as long as it does. For example, the most recent leak on Boys Ranch Road and Lois Lane took about 26 hours to repair.
We will have leaks in the future like all other water systems as infrastructure ages. In addition, we are starting to stock some of these pipes to speed up repairs. There are many different sizes of expensive concrete pipe in our 400 plus mile system.
KWSC’s entire budget is located on our website under the customer service tab and is updated annually at the beginning of our fiscal year, which is October.
John H: Good evening. I had a couple of questions about the quarterly investment budget. When is it due? When is it going to be posted to the website? Is there a goal amount we are trying to get it to?
The only monies that KWSC budgets to invest are the annual depreciation and the impact fees collected from new members. It is put into our Long-Range Plan investment account for major infrastructure improvements and repairs. The Quarterly Investment Report is included in the Board packet in January, April, July, and October. It is not posted on the website but is available upon request through the Open Records Request process.
Then I had a question about the new water rates going up 32.9 percent. If you would address that, it would be great. Thank you.
We are a member owned non-profit utility and all operational costs, loan payments, compliance upgrades, and repairs to aging infrastructure are funded by our members through the base rate and cost of water. KWSC uses every precaution to ensure that our rates are equitable to cover only necessary operating costs. However, our rates must be high enough to maintain operations and deliver water to all our members.
Linda C: I think before we have anymore raises of our bills, we need to vote on it. Isn’t that what all this is for? For us to vote and come together as a community? I came to a meeting a couple of, ten years ago and they said oh, our top bill is going to be $55 max. We are never going to go over $55.00. Well, we are way over $55.00. It just keeps going up and up and up and I think before we raise it anymore, we need to vote on it. I don’t know who votes, but somebody needs to vote besides just you people.
As stipulated by our Bylaws, Tariff and policies, KWSC holds elections annually to vote for the Directors that serve on the Board. The Board is actively engaged in maintaining KWSC’s fiscal responsibility. Part of that responsibility includes analyzing financial performance, including revenue, operational costs, and capital expenditures. KWSC Directors vote on the annual budget and necessary rate increases to cover those expenses.