OES check might pad budget for UPA

June 26, 2003 11:00 pm

By MIKE MORRIS

The Utica Power Authority's 2003-04 preliminary budget shows a surplus, but even more financial stability has come in the form of a final reimbursement check — for more than $760,000 — from costs associated with the Darby Fire of 2001.

"The surplus is not exact," said UPA board member Larry Thompson of the $31,218 extra listed in the money plan the board approved earlier this week. "Hopefully it will be the case that we have a little cushion just in case we underestimate other areas."

The budget is based upon power sales of 36 cents per kilowatt. UPA has two small powerhouses in its system, both of which use water to generate electricity.

"We're following 36 cents, thinking it is conservative and yet it gives us the ability to do more things that we need to do," Thompson said, referring to repairs and maintenance work.

UPA's total revenue for the fiscal year is projected to be $1,200,256 with total expenditures of $1,169,038, which should leave a surplus.

However, UPA board member Jeff Davidson, representing Calaveras County Water District, questioned the allocation of certain funds.

Davidson said repairs to district facilities and the need for district insurance are not adequately addressed in the preliminary budget.

Debbie Ponte, UPA chairwoman and Angels Camp mayor, said the agency is still unable to find an insurance provider because of costly damage to a UPA flume sustained during the Darby Fire of 2001.

UPA has been receiving reimbursement for Darby Fire-related costs from the state Office of Emergency Services. Board members unanimously voted Tuesday evening to accept the final OES payment of $763,240. There is, however, no reflection of that money in the preliminary budget, board members repeatedly said. Maintenance expenses in the budget show that $60,000 is set aside for concrete work and $27,500 is set aside for flume and footing repairs. But some board members said the budget doesn't allot enough money for numerous repairs and maintenance.