By Steve Plunkett
Water bills in Gulf Stream will have a new $30 charge every two months to save up for future repairs.
“Basically what we are recommending is that we immediately begin billing an additional base fee,” Town Manager William Thrasher told commissioners at their January meeting.
Mayor William Koch Jr. agreed a reserve fund for water repairs was needed sooner rather than later.
“It’s something we’ve got to approach. It’s not going away,” Koch said.
Thrasher said Gulf Stream has only $1 million in reserves in its general fund and $100,000 in the water fund. The replacement water main along State Road A1A between Pelican Lane and Golfview Drive in 2006 cost $1.6 million, he noted.
Thrasher said the extra fee will generate about $66,000 a year, which will reduce the town’s need to borrow when another water main breaks.
Consultant Earl Harvel inventoried Gulf Stream’s water mains and determined 78 percent of them were installed in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Their original 100-year life expectancies have been compromised by soil conditions and changes in the town’s treated water, he said.
Thrasher said 2.5 miles of water main is more than 50 years old and 1 mile is more than 60 years old. Their remaining life expectancy is at most 20 years, he said. Replacing them would cost approximately $4.5 million, he added.
The general fund reserves are down to $1 million after the town used them to pay its share of the underground utilities project. Thrasher had asked for up to $450,000, but told commissioners the town’s actual portion turned out to be $351,000.