County water revenues down because of rain

The county’s water revenues are significantly below where they were expected to be at this point in fiscal year 2010, according to Charles Lay, the county’s water services manager.

During the county’s four-month financial review in late February, it was announced the water revenues were about $420,650 under budget. Fiscal year 2010 began in October.

Lay said one of the biggest factors in the low revenue stream is the amount of rain the county has gotten.

“With regards to the rainfall, in the last calendar year, we had 71 inches of rain. This area’s accustomed to about 55. We typically sell a lot of water in late fall, because a lot of people have nice yards,” Lay said. “Because we had so much rain, people stopped watering their yards early. People didn’t water their yards as much in October.”

Ed Carter, financial services manager for the water services department, said he was expecting the lower revenues, in part because of the rain and in part because the department hasn’t taken on customers as quickly as in the past.

Carter said the department has taken on a net of 13 new customers this fiscal year. Last year, the water services department took on an average of 10 customers a month, he said.

However, Carter said there’s still an opportunity for the department to make up some of the revenues.

In the last four months of fiscal year 2008, the department brought in revenues equal to 95 percent of the revenue from the first eight months.

“If we have another drought like we’ve had, people are going to use water,” he said. “Landscaping is an investment.”

With less water being used, the department is also saving money on expenses.

Carter said he feels there will be a dry period and the water services department will catch up to expectations.

“I’ve got a feeling we’ll go through a dry period and revenue will pick up,” he said. “I think we’ll be a lot closer, come Sept. 30, than we are now.”