JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Days after the city of Jackson brought on a firm to help it draw up plans for a new water billing system, Jackson is looking at bringing on two contractors to help maintain the existing one.
The city council is considering two maintenance agreements, both of which members are expected to vote on at their October 13 meeting.
The first contract is with Mueller Systems, a $270,000, six-month deal to allow the firm to maintain the city’s “meter data management software.”
The other is with Keystone Utility Systems, to provide maintenance to meters and other billing system infrastructure in the field. That contract is for $146,000 and also will run for six months.
Both contracts also include the option to extend.
City officials likely will need to extend them, with public works officials saying it could take 12 to 18 months to put a new billing system in place.
The council’s Water and Sewer Infrastructure Ad-Hoc Committee discussed the proposals at its October 8 meeting.
Mueller was one of the subcontractors working on the Siemens contract. The city has claimed that the subcontractor knowingly installed faulty meters as part of the work.
Siemens was brought on in 2013 to completely overhaul the city’s water billing system. Work included replacing tens of thousands of water meters across Jackson, installing new software at the billing office and a new communications network to transmit meter data to the billing office.
Citing complications with the system, Jackson sued Siemens in 2019. Earlier this year, the city settled its suit with the firm for approximately $90 million.
Even with that suit was ongoing, the city continued to work with the Massachusetts-based Mueller to help address bugs with the system. Many of those bugs still
What it asks: Shall the City of Longmont be authorized to borrow up to $80,000,000 for the purpose of financing water system improvements, including but not limited to the Nelson Flanders Water Treatment Plant Expansion Project and replacement of aging water system infrastructure like treated water storage and raw and treated water transmission lines; and shall the borrowing be evidenced by bonds, loan agreements, or other financial obligations payable solely from the City’s water utility enterprise revenues and be issued at one time or in multiple series at a price above, below or equal to the principal amount of such borrowing and with such terms and conditions, including provisions for redemption prior to maturity with or without payment of premium, as the City may determine?
What it means: Longmont is asking voters’ authorization to sell up to $80 million in bonds — backed by a five-year schedule of water rates City Council has already approved, are already in place and that will remain in place regardless of the outcome of the vote on this ballot question — to finance a variety of improvements to the city’s system of delivering raw water to its treatment plant, expanding that treatment plant, improving treated-water storage facilities and the system for transmitting treated water to homes and businesses.
What supporters say: Using bonding and debt servicing spreads out the cost of needed infrastructure improvements over time to avoid rate spikes, which keeps rates more predictable for users. Bond financing results in user rates that are initially lower than if cash were used to fund the improvements and distributes costs more equitably across both current and future residents. Bond financing allows the City of Longmont’s Water Utility to make improvements in the near future, rather than waiting until funds become available. Many of these improvements
Proposals to change the way the council funds West Lothian voluntary organisations are set to be agreed.
The Voluntary Organisations Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) recommended that improvements be put in place to the way local organisations are funded from 2021/22.
This will now go to the Council Executive for final approval.
A working group was established between council officers and third sector representatives to develop a joint approach over a new funding model.
The new approach is a mix of interim funding for areas of work that are part of transition to a commissioning or Service Level Agreement approach and direct grants available to local organisations focused on the key issues currently facing our communities.
Executive councillor for voluntary organisations, Kirsteen Sullivan, said: “The voluntary sector in West Lothian does a fantastic job, supporting the needs of our communities.
“This new approach to funding has been developed in partnership with local voluntary organisations, to help us work together to respond to the challenges we face in West Lothian.
“The impact of Covid-19 has affected many local residents, changing their needs and how best we can work to support them.
“The response from the West Lothian voluntary sector to this has been amazing, and these changes will support them to help their communities going forward.”
Proposed arrangements for 2021/22 will see interim transitional grants of £586,004 for specific organisations to support their ongoing valuable work while the new SLAs are put in place or a commissioning process is carried out.
A new £400,000 Third Sector Community Support Fund 2021/22 is also proposed, which will open up the application process to ensure it is available to all third sector organisations, to help address the key issues facing our communities as we move through the Covid-19 pandemic.
MONUMENT • The Monument Board of Trustees has authorized a major move to fund water improvement projects over the next three years.
At the board’s Sept. 21 meeting, they heard recommendations from town staff and special legal counsel regarding the potential for using the sale of revenue bonds to fund major improvements to its water system over the coming years.
However, instead of revenue bonds, it was recommended Monument create an ordinance to enter a site lease agreement and lease purchase agreement to market Certificates of Participation (COPs) — an alternate form of financing.
Town attorney Andrew Richey presented the finer details of the agreement, with bond counsel provided by Nate Eckloff of Piper Sandler and Kimberly Crawford of Butler Snow Law Firm. Both counsels recommended the certificates to help maximize the town’s budgetary flexibility in financing the water projects.
Presently, the town has a 2A water fund and an enterprise water fund for its improvements. Formal revenue bonds would have the town fund improvements from just one fund, Richey said. Using Certificates of Participation is a way many municipalities, counties and school districts fund projects without having to raise taxes and is a financial structure approved by the Colorado Supreme Court, Richey said. The collateral for the agreement would be town-owned property, infrastructure and improvements.
With the agreement, Monument would lease its collateral property to BOK Financial in Denver, which would act as the financial trustee in exchange for an anticipated $22 million. BOK Financial then leases back the property to the town, and Monument pays “base rents” to pay off the $22 million over time, Richey said.
Richey said Certificates of Participation also carry added protection for the town since they involve leases over a particular term and not transfer of title. Monument would not lose title to