WaterWorks sees ‘very healthy’ finances

HARLINGEN — The Harlingen WaterWorks System is proposing a surplus of about $143,000.

In a budget workshop yesterday, General Manager Tom Skoglund proposed a $21.4 million budget. “It’s very healthy,” Skoglund said after the meeting. Mayor Chris Boswell lauded the agency’s “financial turnaround.”

During about 10 years, the agency, under former General Manager Darrell Gunn, took steps that included cutting over-staffing to build a cash reserve capable of operating the system for 90 days.

“It’s good to see all the positive things that have been accomplished,” Boswell told Skoglund, who took office in April.

The proposed budget sets aside $212,000 for 1.5 percent employee pay increases and 1.5 percent merit pay.

During the coming fiscal year, the agency plans to use $350,000 to replace old water meters inaccurately measuring water use, Skoglund said.

He said the move is expected to boost revenue.

The agency also plans to set aside $713,000 to purchase more water rights, he said.

Skoglund said the proposed budget would also fund a so-called water audit.

A study found that leaks led to “increasing water loss,” he said.

“It’s really not extreme,” Skoglund said after the meeting.

Skoglund said the system’s measuring water loss at 10 to 15 percent.

“Every system has its water loss, some by 10 to 20 percent, even 30 percent,” he said. As part of the budget, Skoglund set aside about $190,000 to hire an assistant general manager or engineer and an administrative assistant for the agency’s human resources department.