Budgeting through COVID

Budgeting is hard enough in the water and sewer world.  Some challenges can be seen a mile away while others lay dormant, waiting for their time to arise and cause disruption.  Our short term and long term plans are very well laid out to cover most items under normal circumstances. With COVID-19’s presence, it adds a level of complexity to the planning we must do to move forward.

Trying to approximate how much water we will use and what our system will require brings many more questions than answers to my desk.  Will businesses re-open?  Will planned projects continue or be put on ice?  Will colleges and schools open?  25% capacity, 50% capacity?  Will office buildings get back to “normal” operating and in-office work?  Late 2020?  2021?  And so on and so on…

The City of Auburn Hills is home (and water supplier) to some very large corporations, colleges, malls, etc.  These large users can consume anywhere from 2-12% of the TOTAL water usage for the city for the YEAR!  So, if these users do not return to normal operations, our data, track records, projections, etc. could be thrown off for the foreseeable future.  These projections help guide our water and sewer rates for everyone.  Although we are doing our best to predict, we need to be resilient for whatever this new world brings.  We will continue to work on keeping rates manageable for all, from users that consume anywhere from 100 cubic feet to upwards of 2,000,000 cubic feet of water per month!

Jason Deman, Manager, Public Utilities Division, Department of Public Works

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