EFC Event: FINANCE FORUM: Water Rate Setting and Long Term Fiscal Planning for Small Water Systems

Event
FINANCE FORUM: Water Rate Setting and Long Term Fiscal Planning for Small Water Systems

Hosted by: Environmental Finance Center

Live event
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 9AM-4PM
Florence AL

REGISTER  NOW

 

The Environmental Finance Center at UNC is hosting a finance forum for drinking water systems in collaboration with the EPA's Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center, EPA Region 4 and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The forum will be held in the Marriott Shoals Hotel of Florence, Alabama.

Water utilities generally get most of their revenue from user charges. In order to ensure proper funding of utilities, it is critical that small water systems fully understand both rate setting and long-term fiscal planning. Systems should understand how policy decisions that promote economic development or conservation can impact revenues and aim to set rates that promote utility priorities while recovering the full cost of operation.

The forum will help address the financial stability of small water systems while providing safe, quality drinking water at fair rates. Topics include many aspects of financial management and planning of a water system fund including rates and rate setting, controlling costs, planning for capital expenses, benchmarking financial performance, and collaboration between nearby small systems.

This forum is designed for drinking water systems serving 10,000 or fewer people, especially targeting local government systems facing financial challenges. Owners of privately owned systems, consultants and technical assistance providers serving small water systems are also invited to attend, provided that there is space.

There are a limited number of seats. Interested participants who require financial assistance with lodging should contact Rosemary at roseab@live.unc.edu or (407)432-6651.

Small drinking water systems in the following eight Region 4 states are invited to register:

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The forum has been submitted for CEU approval to the various states within the region that pre-approve continuing education credits. The Finance Forum has been approved in:

  • GA for 4 Management & Safety Points
  • MS for 5.5 MSDH Public Water Supply Training Hours and 1 Regulatory Hour
  • NC for 6 Drinking Water Professional Growth Hours

Please note the conditions in the following states:

  • AL: Alabama Department of Environmental Management does not pre-approve training courses. It is the Operator's responsibility to identify valid CEH classes that are appropriate for the operator's individual level or grade of certification.
  • TN: The Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Board does not approve financial workshops for their operators.
  • SC: The Board of Environmental Certification does not pre-approve courses for Continuing Education. All documentation of the training is the responsibility of the licensee completing the training. 

Register for the forum here. 

 

HOTEL: Marriott Shoals Hotel, 10 Hightower Place, Florence, Alabama 35630

 

The official roomblock deadline has passed but there may be some rooms available. Please contact Rosemary Astra-Blossom at roseab@live.unc.edu or (407)432-6651 for more information.

 

 

AGENDA

8:30am – 9:00am

Registration

9:00am – 9:30am

Introductions

Environmental Finance Center at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Environmental Protection Agency

9:30am – 10:00am

Small Water Utility Finance 101

Presenters

-       Stacey Isaac Berahzer, EFC at UNC-Chapel Hill

-       Jim Grassiano, Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Session will discuss how to think about the water system as a financial entity. Small water systems face special challenges. The infrastructure needs per residential connection are much greater for small systems. Smaller systems also tend to have a higher number of health violations.

10:00am – 10:15am

Coffee Break

10:15am – 11:00am

Benchmarking & Assessing Financial Condition of Your Water System

Presenter

-       Jeff Hughes, EFC at UNC-Chapel Hill

Facilitators

-      David Austin, GEFA

-    Jeremy Cormier, GEFA

-    Dana Eldridge, GEFA

Session will examine the key financial indicators that allow water systems to make informed decisions in planning and investment. In a hands-on exercise, participants will learn how to calculate and interpret a water system’s operating ratio, debt service coverage ratio, current ratio, and days of cash on hand. We will also discuss how funders use these numbers in deciding whether or not to loan systems money needed for capital improvements.

11:00am – 12:00pm

Generating Needed Revenue – Rate Setting

Presenter

-       Jeff Hughes, EFC at UNC-Chapel Hill

-     Jason Barrett, Mississippi State University Extension

Session will provide an overview of best management practices in rate setting. Water utilities generally get most of their revenue from rates.  In order to ensure proper funding of utilities, it is critical that small water systems fully understand both long-term fiscal planning and rate setting.  Systems should understand how policy decisions that promote economic development or conservation can impact revenues and look to set rates that promote utility priorities while recovering the full cost of operation.

12:00pm – 12:45pm

Networking Lunch – Lunch Provided

12:45pm – 1:30pm

Asset Management

Presenter

-       Stacey Isaac Berahzer, EFC at UNC-Chapel Hill

Session will provide a framework for embarking on Asset Management. While we will provide an overview of the 5 core components of Asset Management, we focus on the components of “level of service” and “criticality.”

1:30pm – 2:30pm

Panel on System Collaboration

Panelists

-       Dennis Harrison, Alabama Department of Environmental Management

-       Roger Recktenwald, Kentucky Association of Counties

-       John Walton, Logan-Todd Regional Water Commission

Session will provide some of the benefits and examples of water systems collaboration.  Collaborating with other utilities is one strategy to help systems address some of their challenges. There are many different ways systems can collaborate, from extremely informal information sharing sessions, to sharing of personnel or purchasing to assistance with regulatory compliance. In some cases of collaboration, several systems actually merge into one. We will look at an example where systems from different states have regionalized into one system.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Funders Overview

Funders

-       Allen Bowen, USDA Rural Development

-       Desmone Black, Mississippi State Department of Health Bureau of Public Water Supply

-       Michael Griffiths, Cobank

-       Chris Jones, GEFA

-       Annaka Woodruff, Appalachian Regional Commission

Session will provide descriptions of individual financing programs and how they may interact with each other. There are several federal and state programs that provide financing for water infrastructure projects. However, the process for securing even loan funds is often highly competitive. Speakers include persons involved in administering the programs in the state.

3:30pm – 4:00pm

Wrap Up

 

 

Event Presentations

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