Friday, May 21, 1999

Oahu water rates will
stay same for 5th year

The good news for consumers is
linked to isles' poor economy

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Oahu's water consumers won't see any increase in rates for a fifth straight year, thanks in large part to the bad economy.

The Board of Water Supply yesterday unanimously approved a budget and rate plan that keep rates the same through June 2000.

The average household uses about 13,000 gallons and pays about $24.86 a month.

Water Manager Cliff Jamile said slower economic times have made it easier for the city to obtain less expensive construction bids from contractors hard up for work.

That savings allows the board to defer a scheduled increase for a fifth straight year, Jamile said.

In 1993, the board adopted a rate schedule, based on a professional financial study, allowing for increases each year through 1999.

"Actual expenditures for our water facility construction projects are significantly less than the amounts originally forecasted by the rate study," Jamile said.

"Back in 1992, when the rate study was being developed, construction activity on Oahu was peaking, our bids were coming in over budget and total expenditures were very close to budgeted projections," he said.

The operating budget for fiscal 2000, which begins July 1, is $138 million, down from the current year's $179.6 million. Next year's includes $65.8 million for the research and facilities improvement program, down from $73.4 million this year.

Pipeline replacement for older neighborhoods accounts for $49.7 million of the research and facilities improvement program.

The amount of carryover into next year's operating budget, a source of controversy with Mayor Jeremy Harris last year, is projected at $40 million.

That's more than the $5.4 million originally budgeted but less than the $85.9 million that carried over into this year's budget a year ago.

The $85.9 million carryover was criticized a year ago by Harris, who described the money as a surplus and suggested that much of it be given back to water users.

The agency argued that the large carryover was the result of low bids for facilities replacement projects and the fact that many projects were slow to begin because of delays.

Next year's budget for construction projects is $57.1 million, slightly less than this year.

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