This Week in Orange Politics: October 20-26

OP Editors's picture

Early voting starts week! Don’t forget out there and let you voice be heard.

While both school boards and the Hillsborough Town Board, the County Commissioners will consider operational changes at the Community Home Trust and endorsing staff recommendations for new bus service in the central and rural parts of the county. The Carrboro Alderfolks will schedule a public hearing on the Lloyd Farm Conditional Use Permit and the Chapel Hill Town Council will review a number of development proposals.

This Week in Orange Politics: October 6-12

OP Editors's picture

It’s another busy week for Orange County’s elected boards. The Carrboro Alderfolks will consider joining the Bee City USA program and discuss locating agricutlural support uses in the Rural Buffer, while Chapel Hill devotes a day-long work session to the Obey Creek development. The County Commissioners will talk about upgrading 9-1-1 technology, while the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board will evaluate the superintendent. Both the Hillsborough and County School Boards are on break this week.

This Week in Orange Politics: September 22-28

OP Editors's picture

Because of this week’s InterCity Visit to Athens, Ga., there aren’t many meetings of Orange County’s elected boards. You can follow #ICV2014 on Twitter for updates from the trip, but if you are town the Orange County School Board will meet to review student achievement. OWASA will also hold its annual meeting.

Here’s the full summary:


OWASA Regular Board Meeting

Ruby Sinreich's picture

I apologize for the formatting, but this is how OWASA does it. See complete agenda at http://www.owasa.org/client_resources/about/agendas/2013/03-28-13%20agenda.pdf


1. Announcements by the Chair
A. Any Board member who knows of a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest with respect to any item on the agenda tonight is asked to disclose the same at this time.
B. April 11, 2013 Board of Director's Meeting is Cancelled; the Board will hold a Strategic Planning Work Session on April 11, 2013 at 5:30 PM at the Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant
C. Chapel Hill Town Council's OWASA Committee and the Chapel Hill Appointees to the OWASA Board will meet Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 8:00 AM in the OWASA Boardroom

2. Announcements by Board Members
A. Update on the March 28, 2013 Finance Committee Meeting (John Young)
B. Natural Resources and Technical Systems Committee will meet on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 5:00 PM in the OWASA Boardroom (Terri Buckner)

3. Announcements by Staff

Petitions and Requests
1. Public
2. Board
3. Staff

1. Approval of the Minutes of the February 28, 2013 Meeting of the Board of Directors (Andrea Orbich)
2. Approval of the Minutes of the February 28, 2013 Closed Session of the Board of Directors for the Purpose of Discussing a Personnel Matter (Gordon Merklein)


Information and Reports
3. Update on Asset Management (Mary Darr)

4. Discussion of Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Process (John Young/Stephen Winters) Summary of Board Meeting

Action Items
5. Executive Director will summarize the key action items from the Board meeting and note significant items for discussion and/or action expected at the next Board meeting.


6. The Board will Convene in a Closed Session for the Purpose of Discussing a Personnel Matter (Gordon Merklein) 


Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 7:00pm


Council Chambers at Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Chapel Hill

OWASA Board Strategic Planning Work Session

Ruby Sinreich's picture


OWASA Board of Directors Strategic Planning Work Session Thursday, February 14, 2013, 5:30 PM OWASA Boardroom
Preliminary Agenda – Discussion Topics

Set ground rules
  • All contributions by team members
  • Identification of the group’s most important agreements
Share expectations for strategic planning
  • Characteristics of a good plan
  • Strategy development process
Step 1: Identify the strategic topics
  • All candidates
  • Edited/organized/merged list of candidates
  • The short list
(Time permitting) Commission targeted staff analysis

Plan next steps
  • Progress and process checks
  • Calendar and other logistics


Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 5:30pm


OWASA Boardroom

OWASA Board Meeting

Ruby Sinreich's picture

See full agenda at http://owasa.org/client_resources/about/agendas/2013/01%2024%202013%20agenda%20for%20web.pdf


1. Announcements by the Chair

Any Board member who knows of a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest with respect to any item on the agenda tonight is asked to disclose the same at this time.

2. Announcements by Board Members

Update on the January 24, 2013 Finance Committee Meeting (John Young) 

3. Announcements by Staff

Petitions and Requests

1. Public

2. Board 

3. Staff 



1. Approval of the Minutes of  the December 13, 2012 Meeting of the Board of Directors (Andrea Orbich)


Discussion and Action

2. Discussion of a Potential Policy on Public Comments in Board Meetings (Alan Rimer)Discussion

3. Marketing Plan for Taste of Hope Customer Assistance Program (Greg Feller)

4. Discussion of the Rate Study and Recommendations (John Young/Stephen Winters)

5. Review of Drafts of the Budget Planning Documents; Summary of Strategic Issues, Planning Assumptions, and Background Information; Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Calendar  (Stephen Winters)Information and Reports 

6. Financial Report for the Six Month Period Ended December 31, 2012 (Stephen Winters)

7. OWASA's Approach to Projecting Water Demands (Ruth Rouse)Summary of Board Meeting Action Items

8. Executive Director will summarize the key action items from the Board meeting and note significant items for discussion and/or action expected at the next Board meeting.  


Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 7:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Chapel Hill

Less Ink, More Water: What Do We Do When There Are No Reporters but Big Decisions?

Steve Dear's picture

I love newspapers and news blogs. I love reporters. I used to be a reporter. I come from 150 years of men – and one grandmother, Cyrene Bakke Dear – who published local community newspapers from Jersey City to Sedalia, Mo.

In the '60s my mom and dad got a lot of late-night, threatening calls from the Klan in my hometown of Elizabeth City, NC for what my dad did through the Daily Advance. David Dear informed the community with courage. He was also an equal opportunity employer before the phrase existed and he got threats for that, too.

On Going to Jordan

Mark Chilton's picture

[At the March 1, 2011, meeting of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, in response to a request from the OWASA Board of Directors to facilitate greater access to water from Jordan Lake, Mayor Mark Chilton made the following remarks. The Editors of OP asked if we could publish his comments here as a blog post, and he agreed. -Ed.] 

What the evidence that was just laid out before you clearly shows is that our community is capable of living with the water supply we have now, that the water supply now is very substantial, is scheduled to grow significantly in 2035, and that water conservation efforts have proved to be more effective than—I think they've really proved to be more effective than anybody would have guessed 10 years ago, than the most wild-eyed optimists would have believed 10 years ago. We've been more successful than that. We have not even exhausted the water conservation and water efficiency technologies and policies and procedures that even possibly could be implemented within our community.

OWASA Public Hearing

Ruby Sinreich's picture

From a recent e-mail:

The OWASA Board of Directors invites customers to participate in public hearings on Thursday night, May 26th regarding:
·         proposed rate and fee increases, including a potential 2% increase in monthly water and sewer rates;
·         the draft budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012; and
·         the draft FY 2012-16 Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
The public hearings will be part of an OWASA Board meeting at 7:00 PM in the Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The meeting will be televised live on local cable channel 18.
Citizens are invited to attend and speak at the public hearings and to provide comments for the OWASA Board by e-mail to webmaster@owasa.org, by letter to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510 or by fax to (919) 968-4464.  Written comments will be public records and they will be provided to the OWASA Board.
·         OWASA is a non-profit, community-owned agency with cost-of-service rates.
·         The proposed 2% increase in monthly rates would add $1.66 to a typical residential bill for 5,000 gallons of water and sewer service.
·         The proposed operating budget of $19.1 million for FY 2012 is about $500,000 more than the current budget.
·         The primary reasons for the proposed rate increase are higher costs for chemicals used in water and wastewater treatment, and an expected increase in the cost of maintaining OWASA’s equipment, water and sewer lines, and drinking water and wastewater plants.
·         1.5 employee positions have been eliminated in the FY 2012 budget. Since 2004, OWASA has reduced its workforce by 14%.
Proposed rate and fee increases
Single-family residential water use by OWASA customers averages about 4,500 gallons per month. (OWASA’s bills are rounded down to the nearest 1,000 gallon increment.)
Examples of bills for individually-metered residences:

Water and sewer use per month
Current bill
Bill with proposed rates
2,000 gallons
3,000 gallons
4,000 gallons
5,000 gallons
6,000 gallons
7,000 gallons
8,000 gallons

As indicated above, a typical residential customer uses 4,000 to 5,000 gallons per month.
Rates are also proposed to increase about 2% for businesses, master-metered multi-family developments and institutional customers, who pay “seasonal” water rates; and for irrigation-only customers.
The one-time “service availability” or capacity fees for initial connections to the OWASA system would increase about 3.4%, which reflects the 5-year historical average increase in the construction cost index.
Any customer who wishes to have an estimate of bills with the proposed rates is invited to call Public Affairs at 537-4267 or send an e-mail towebmaster@owasa.org. Estimates are based on water use in the last year.
OWASA is a public, non-profit agency with cost-of-service rates
OWASA’s cost-of-service rates are calculated to fund operating and maintenance costs; debt payment obligations; infrastructure replacement, renewal and improvements to maintain reliable, quality service; reserves necessary to be financially sound; and sustainability initiatives and investments.
OWASA has no shareholders. OWASA is owned by the community in the same sense that public facilities such as local streets and parks are owned by the community.
Infrastructure investments/capital improvements
One of OWASA’s highest priorities is renewing, replacing and improving its “infrastructure” of pipelines, treatment facilities, etc. to ensure reliable, quality service to current and future customers. Cash funding of new capital projects and debt payments for previously completed projects account for about 45% of OWASA’s monthly bill.
The proposed $9.9 million capital budget for FY 2012 includes $3.4 million to replace aging water lines; $3.2 million to complete the Bolin Creek sewer replacement; and various projects at our water and wastewater treatment plants, pump stations, etc.
The proposed 5-year CIP for FY 2012-16 is about $63 million and it includes $35.5 million for renewal, replacement and improvement of water and sewer lines to maintain the reliability and quality of our services; and $21 million of work at our two treatment plants.
Debt payments on bonds issued to help pay for capital projects
The FY 2012 budget includes $8.8 million of debt payments on bonds issued since 2001. OWASA funds its capital improvements with a combination of long-term bonds, which are paid off over time, and net revenues available in a given year. The FY 2012 budget for debt payments is about $900,000 less than the FY 2011 budget. About 20% of OWASA’s debt is in variable rate bonds, for which interest rates have fallen due to market conditions.
Other budget items
·         $600,000 for capital equipment.
·         $650,000 annual contribution to the capital and rate stabilization reserve funds.
Financial sustainability
In accord with financial management policies adopted by the Board of Directors, the proposed budget for FY 2012 is designed to meet objectives for financial sustainability, including the amount of financial reserves and the ratio of net income to debt service. These are among the key performance measures on which OWASA’s creditworthiness is based. Continuation of OWASA’s strong credit ratings translates into lower interest rates on bonds, which mean lower costs to OWASA customers.
Budget process
The OWASA Board may make decisions on the budget, capital program and rates in June.
FY 2012 will begin on July 1, 2011 and end on June 30, 2012.
The normal effective date for changes in OWASA’s rates is October 1stfollowing the public hearings in May and adoption of the annual budget, etc. in June.
For more information:
·         Additional information on the budget and capital program and a summary of current and proposed rates are available by clicking here. If you receive this information in paper form, we invite you to visit the OWASA website,www.owasa.org, click on About OWASA and then click on Performance & Financial Information.
·         Stephen Winters, Director of Finance and Customer Service, 537-4230 orswinters@owasa.org


Thursday, May 26, 2011 - 7:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

OWASA Board Responds to Carrboro and Chapel Hill

Damon Seils's picture
When the Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted on March 1 against a request by OWASA to amend the Water and Sewer Management, Planning and Boundary Agreement (WSMPBA) -- and the Chapel Hill Town Council followed suit on April 25 -- the local water and sewer utility found itself in need of a compromise or a new strategy.


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