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GPIWA holds 55th annual meeting

Budget, project updates and board voting totals reported

March 4, 2020
By PAULETTE LeBLANC (pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com) , Pine Island Eagle

The Greater Pine Island Water Association had its 55th annual board meeting on Feb. 25.

After the call to order, President John Cammick honored Tim Saulsbery on behalf of the board for his exemplary service on a two-year term as secretary. Treasurer Paul Brown then gave the financial report, stating that between 2018 and 2019 the GPIWA operating revenues increased by $166,000 due, in large part, to a 2% rate increase from 2019, while operating expenses increased by approximately $38,000. Brown reported an increase of operating income of approximately $127,000 from $560,000 to $688,000, leaving the gross profit at $558,000 in 2018 and $727,000 in 2019.

There was an increase in unrestricted cash of approximately $650,000, from $4,558,000 to $5,281,000, which he estimates as a fairly high reserve balance. Brown said they try to keep a reserve on hand of $2 million to $2.5 million in case of emergency, such as a hurricane, where there may be a need to quickly rebuild infrastructure, and with the reserve in place the need to borrow money for this can be bypassed. The remaining balance is reinvested into the distribution system, meaning the neighborhoods and water mains, from the plant to the Center and back out to the distribution areas.

Article Photos

The Greater Pine Island?Water Association facility on Pine Island Road.

Paulette LeBlanc

According to Brown, the overage of funds in the reserve balance is a direct result of money from projects, which was allocated but not yet spent. The expectation, he said, is to spend roughly half of the reserve on the continuation of these projects in 2020, if the planned projects are seen through to completion.

Brown explained the 2% rate increase from the past three years is to help fund the reinvestment into the system and also to make up for lost revenue of customers to Cape Coral. He went on to say that in 2018 the distribution system in Matlacha Isles was replaced in addition to work on the R.O. Plant.

In 2019 the "Shore up Your Neighborhood" project was done in addition to plant improvements. Upcoming in 2020, Brown said they have a fairly large project ahead to replace a large part of the main going down Pine Island Road, which, he said, is an aging pipe, made of concrete and asbestos, that will have to be switched out.

In addition to the new building, the area known as the "Fruit Streets" neighborhood (Papaya Street, Tropical Point Street, Citrus Street, Mango Street, Tangelo Street, Gasparilla Street, Tangerine Street) will also have work done. Brown said the work to be done in certain neighborhoods was estimated by lists obtained showing the number of residents, system age, likeliness of system failure, etc., with the goal to keep the water system in good condition. The general financial goals overall, Brown said, are to control expenses, maintain a reasonable reserve and to reinvest any amount over the reserve to keep the system in good shape.

A motion was made and passed to accept the audit for 2019.

General Manager Laurie Adams opened her report with a reminder of the GPIWA mission, spanning approximately two years, to produce clean, safe drinking water that exceeds all regulated standards and strives to deliver all services as cost effectively as possible with members' interest in mind. Adams emphasized that it's going to take reinvestment to stay on target. She pointed out the water main break in Royal Tee, which caused a geyser and had to be repaired, in addition to a break in Island Acres, which led to a boil-water notice.

In 2019 some of the projects needing to be completed included a 2 million-gallon tank repainting, system automation, generator installation, moving a generator to the deep injection well, in addition to the Shore View Drive water main replacement, which required 1,300 lineal feet of pipe, services, 20-plus radio read meters and two fire hydrants, by itself.

Adams then showed a PowerPoint presentation she'd prepared including projects such as, the 2-million-gallon tank at the R.O. Plant which was in need of maintenance requiring a contractor to clean and paint the exterior. She then explained the importance of the modern convenience of an automated system, at an approximate cost of $30,000, which bypasses the need to drive on-site and open a valve, when it can be done remotely with a laptop computer.

Adams contends that the island, by nature, must be able to maintain itself, which she points out is not always easy and credits the GPIWA employees in large part for being able to achieve. To give an indication of the expense of their ongoing mission Adams reported that the center bypass was leaking, and also not automatically controlled. The cost to have it looked at, before any repair, was estimated at a few thousand dollars. Now fully automated, with a new actuator, and having been done independently by GPIWA employees, the center bypass is fully functional with a total cost of $7,000.

The Center Generator project, which began in 2018, was completed in 2019. Originally equipped with a pull-behind generator, Adams explained that while during a hurricane you were able to pump from the Center, you could not perform office operations such as phone usage or air conditioning. The purpose of this project was to install a 200 kilowatt generator on site that will allow pumping to be done while maintaining normal business function in the office.

Part of the presentation from Adams included pictures of the inner-workings of the reverse osmosis system, in an attempt to explain the necessity of reinvestment. While she explained that contractors were hired to bring replacement pipe in to begin this project, she emphasized the need once again for the island to be self-sustaining. During these kinds of projects, the GPIWA needs to be able to continue managing behind the scenes, Adams said, keeping tanks full, keeping proper staff on duty, etc. The project, she sad, is complete in terms of piping, and they are currently waiting on grading replacement that will go over the trenches.

Going forward in 2020, projects on the docket include the Fruit Streets neighborhood design water mains and hydrants, phase one of the Pine Island Road water main replacement, the beginning of a 5-year meter change out to radio-head system, as well as the completion of projects carried over from 2019.

The results of the voting for the new board were also reported. The total number of ballots received was 754, and 27 of those were found to be invalid, due to a lack of name, signature, or not having had a representative card.

The valid vote totals according to area and candidate are:

Matlacha

John Cammick, 619

Bokeelia

Isabel Francis, 186

Joel Koonce, 198

James Koopman, 312

At Large

Linda Kutney, 342

Joan Rosenberg, 117

Augusto Villalon, 114

John West, 131

 
 

 

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