GAFCWA wants prompt payments from customers

PAT FRIDGEN

The Greencastle Area, Franklin County, Water Authority considered upping its fees for delinquent accounts at an Aug. 25 meeting. Manager Kenneth Womack told authority members that higher penalties could spur customers to pay their water bills on time. The meeting was postponed from its regular date of Aug. 16 in order to have a quorum.

Womack said he typically sent out 100 overdue notices quarterly, and most people then paid up. Approximately 10 customers ended up being assessed fees. He acknowledged occasions when people went through hard times, and he was willing to work with them if they spoke to him before the payment deadline. Higher late charges and reconnection fees were not meant to be punishment, Womack stressed, but just to get revenue due from the purchased water, especially from the chronically-late customers. He planned to present a resolution with final details at the September meeting.

GAFCWA members Greg Rock, Jason Gerhart and Robert Miller unanimously approved Womack's recommendation to purchase electricity from Keytex Energy from Jan. 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013. The 30-month agreement would result in a rate of 6.4 cents per kilowatt hour, slightly less than what is paid to Allegheny Power now, he said. He wanted to lock into a price to help with budgeting.

Solicitor Jan Sulcove said the agreement had one clause, that if the deal was not  economically feasible, Keytex could terminate the contract with 30 days notice.

"It's not a good thing," he said, "but it's not the end of the world either."

The board looked over the 2009 audit and financial report, and the H2O Grant audit. The latter was required by the Department of Community and Economic Development. Boyer and Ritter conducted the analysis, and Womack said GAFCWA had switched from modified accrual to the modified cash basis of accounting at the recommendation of the firm and borough council.

"It more matches the budget," said Womack, "but a disadvantage is that a December bill gets paid in January. And technically this doesn't meet generally accepted accounting standards."

The report for the grant covered the period from March 1, 2007 to March 31, 2010. The grant contract itself ends June 30, 2012. The main comment from Boyer on both audits was that duties regarding billing, receiving and other transactions should be segregated, so that more than one person handled each money matter. Womack said the note was included every year, but GAFCWA was "a small outfit, with only four office employees. We work on financial controls and do the best we can."

He added that Boyer was not concerned about anything in particular and that the authority complied with all standards.