April 19, 2021

Osceola Water Board discussed water rate study, licensing pay incentives

Water Rate Study

The Osceola Water Board met at their monthly meeting Thursday April 1. All board members were present in person with the exception of Alisha Kale who was present via phone.

The first hour and 15 minutes of the meeting was spent listening to Grady Reed Project Manager with HDR Engineering inform the board of the Water Rate Study. This study is making projections to see how water rate increases for different sectors will affect future budgets and projects.

Reed will continue to work toward a finalized proposal and will be presenting again at the May meeting for consideration and possible action. Board member Dr. Jim Kimball moved to set the public hearing for the Water Rates to May 6, the motion passed.

Billing during apartment construction

The board then discussed utility bill issues that arose at 2315 N. Main St. The building is currently under construction and changing from a plan of 17 units in the building from the prior owner to a total of six units, four units are currently finished with the current owner. The owner was billed the minimum amount for 17 units rather than the units completed or even number of units planned. There is only one meter for the entire building rather than one meter per unit. This isn’t an issue that has come up before so the a discussion by the board ensued as to how billing should work during construction of multi-unit residences.

“The direction that we had before was that we just charge them once they’ve developed however many units they’re going to have,” said Osceola Water Works Director Brandon Patterson.

“It seems to me that it would be fair to have him pay for the units that he has completed,” said board member Dr. James Kimball.

The option of an honor system was raised by Kimball who suggested a building owner inform the board as units are completed but it was acknowledged by the board that an honor system wouldn’t work for everyone and Utility Office Manager Carrie Benda informed Kimball that working on an honor system in that way would cause issues with annual audits because it wouldn’t follow current board rules.

“I get a little nervous just because we can’t really rely on someone saying ‘oh we’re going to start building these apartments now’ just because maybe one person’s honest it doesn’t mean that the next person’s honest,” said board member Alisha Kale.

“I think you ought to just be paying for completed units... I would ask the [Osceola Water Works] staff to see what they could do to make sure that works and if we have a rule or a policy that we need to change then they come back to us with the changes that we need to do,” said Kimball.

The board agreed that staff will do research on the best way to track when a unit is completed and report back to the water board with any policy changes that would need to be made.

Pay incentives

Patterson gave his recommendation for pay incentives. For each operator, if they earned a grade 1, requiring a test six months after passing a book course, it would be a 75 cent an hour raise, a grade 2 with no college required three years of working before being eligible to take the exam and grade 3 which requires nearly an Associates degree would be given $1.50 an hour raise. A grade 4 which requires nearly a Bachelor degree would be given a $2 an hour raise. For a CDL or a pesticide license a 50 cent an hour raise would be given. The board approved the pay incentives.

Staffing and job descriptions

The board then approved the job descriptions for two currently new positions. The Water Distribution Foreman would oversee the office staff, waterline installations, water main breaks, the hydrant flushing program, meter installation and park inventory. The Water Plant Foreman would oversee the staff at the water treatment plant, ensure water for the community, oversee state samples and tests, submit monthly reports, maintenance and chemical ordering.

The board approved promoting Royce Robertson to Water Plant Foreman on a six month probationary period with a $1 an hour raise.

Tyra Audlehelm

I grew up in Osceola and live here still with my husband and son. I graduated with my Bachelor degree in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2017. I have work at the OST since January of 2018.