Treatment plant budget OKed

The Port Orchard City Council voted unanimously on Monday to approve the 2005 budget for the Port Orchard Wastewater Treatment Facility.

According to Dick Fitzwater, general manager of Karcher Creek Sewer District, the plant relies on revenue from both the city of Port Orchard and the district in the form of equivalent residential units (ERU). An ERU is equal to 180 gallons a day of water consumption.

Both the city and the district must pay the plant $18 per ERU for operational costs, up $6 per ERU from 2004.

However, the money disappears fast.

Fitzwater is in charge of constructing the budget.

The 2005 approved budget sets aside $503,240 for employee salaries, $106,900 for benefits and $37,500 to dispose of sludge.

More than $11,000 will be spent on the plant's utility bills, $59,500 on chemicals, $57,200 on professional services, $5,600 on transportation and $77,000 on insurance.

Almost $5,000 will be used for general expenses and $78,600 for plant maintenance.

Fitzwater set aside $314,682 for depreciation.

“Depreciation refers to the amount of money we’re setting aside for the replacement of expensive equipment,” Fitzwater said.

According to Fitzwater, the first step is figuring out the cost of a particular piece. Next, he estimates how many more years the equipment will be functional.

When he divides the cost into the number of years, he said he knows how much money to set aside each year.

After allocating $76,400 in taxes, the total operating and expense budget of the Port Orchard Wastewater Treatment Facility comes to $1,506,722.

But there's more.

Since loans taken by the city are currently being used at the plant, payments have begun. In the coming year, $550,000 will be paid to debt service.

“When we started using the money,” Fitzwater said, “we had to start paying it back.”

After including several 2005 capital improvement projects, including the construction of the much-anticipated Class A Digester, the grand total comes to $2.2 million.

The Digester eliminates the necessity of hauling away the sludge produced by the treatment plant, saving money. Plant Manager John Poppe invented the Digester, holds the patent and is providing it to the plant at no cost.

The Class-A Digester produces higher-quality sludge, material that will eventually be available for use as fertilizer by the general public.

Sludge has recently been tried as fertilizer in a section of South Kitsap Community Park.

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