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Water rate study cost runs $32K over limit
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A cost overrun of about $32,000 on a $100,000 study on water rates had commissioners questioning why they weren't notified earlier of the change.

At the Tuesday Board of Commissioners work session, Rockdale Water Resources Director Dwight Wicks explained there had been more work involved in the Raftelis study on residential and commercial water and sewer rates than originally anticipated.

Wicks said additional work and services were requested by the Water and Sewerage Authority.

Chairman Richard Oden said, "They're going to have cost overruns because they don't understand the operational components. They are not experts like we are not experts."

"My position is to support what was done," said Wicks, when Commissioner Oz Nesbitt asked what he thought of the additional cost. "The public is going to be impacted by the rate increase and we want good public imput. The Water and Sewerage Authority represents public imput. Their requirements were a little more stringent."

Water and Sewerage Authority Chairperson Elaine Nash later said the additional work the Authority had asked included looking at the effect of increasing the sewer rate and not just the water rate, the effect that would have on industries, and had asked Raftelis to hold two public meetings on the rate recommendations and a meeting with the three commissioners, which was later done by online video conferencing.

"We thought this was worth spending the extra money when we made the recommendation." She said they hoped the basic financial model built for this study would be sound and robust enough to be used for a while.

The contract was originally approved by the BOC at a maximum of $100,000.

Commissioner JaNice Van Ness asked Wicks at the work session, "So when these extras were being asked for, did you know ahead of time?"

Wicks said, "We did not know ahead of time."

"This sounds like a negotiation issue for the county attorney," said Van Ness.

Wicks also said the request for the Raftelis change order had been submitted back in October. "This review process covered a number of months."

Nash said the issue of a cost overrun first came up in September in an Authority Finance Committee meeting, but the amount discussed at that time was around $6,000 or $8,000 over the budgeted amount and the bill for $32,000 additional costs was not submitted until later.

The last time Raftelis had done a rate study for Rockdale was in 1998 and it had cost about $144,000, said Nash