LEAC to fund 72% of WAPA budget

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ST. CROIX - At its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, the V.I. Water and Power Authority board voted to approve WAPA's electrical and water systems operating and capital budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

The board unanimously approved an electrical operating budget for the 2015 Fiscal Year of $314.9 million in operating revenue, comprising $227 million in LEAC revenue and $87.9 million in other revenue.

The proposed electrical system budget showed $306 million in total operating expenses.

The water system fiscal year budget that was approved showed total operating revenues at $35 million, comprising $9.3 million in LEAC revenue and $25.7 million in other revenue.

The total operating expenses proposed in the water system's upcoming budget is $32.9 million.

The board also voted to approve an electrical system capital budget for the next fiscal year that totals $74.6 million and a capital budget for the water system that totals $13.8 million.

In attempts to continue to streamline WAPA's expenses, Chief Financial Officer Julio Rhymer recommended to the board that they authorize Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. to enter into a one-year contract with Caribbean Auto Mart to procure vehicles to establish a standardized vehicle fleet that he said will provide cost-saving benefits.

Rhymer explained to the board that having a majority of the fleet standardized from a particular dealer would ensure that they could certify their mechanics to provide their own maintenance, and the agreement would include the company buying back the vehicles on a five-year cycle at market value.

The board approved the request.

The board also approved an amendment in the cost for rock excavation at the Midland Substation construction site. Clinton Hedrington explained that during the excavation and trenching activities, hard rock was encountered at several locations and the contractor will remove the rock to maintain appropriate depth of the substation building and trenching of the duct banks.

He said the rock removal will cost an estimated $48,000 which will bring the total cost of the contract consideration to $12.2 million.

Board member Donald Francois said he wanted to note that the substation construction is ahead of schedule for its September completion deadline.

Hedrington confirmed that, adding that the project is expected to be completed before the end of next month.

Board members present at Wednesday's meeting were Francois, Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Wayne Biggs Jr.; Energy Director Karl Knight; Juanita Young and Noel Loftus.

Absent from the meeting were Planning and Natural Resources Department Commissioner Alicia Barnes; Cheryl Boynes-Jackson; Gerald Groner and Elizabeth Armstrong.

Hodge attended via video and did not present a director's report.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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