Harbor Business Briefs

PUD Board approves 2021 budget

The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have approved a $127.6 million operating budget for 2021. The spending plan will invest $10.5 million in the utility system and infrastructure in the coming year and will spend roughly $70.8 million on the energy PUD customers rely on to power their homes and businesses.

“This budget really comes down to service, affordability and reliability,” said PUD Commission President Russ Skolrood. “The energy the utility purchases continues to be amongst the cleanest and most affordable in the country and the system that delivers that energy must do so while standing up to the rigors of the Grays Harbor environment. The investments the board has approved for the coming year will ensure that our customers can rely on those services to continue.”

In addition to energy costs, which make up 71% of the operating budget, the utility capital budget will invest $4.22 million in the utility distribution system, $2.11 million in the PUD transmission system, $2 million on utility substations, and $2.16 million on the utility general plant. Some of the standout projects include over $1 million spent on improvements to the Central Park, Scott Street and Montesano substations, concluding work on the Chehalis River Crossing Towers, extending the utility fiber system and maintaining and replacing the equipment that helps the PUD maintain system safety, reliability and affordability.

The 2021 budget will include a proposed 2% rate adjustment which will not be implemented until May. By waiting until the spring, the PUD staff have the time to assess utility finances and determine if the full adjustment is necessary.

“In 2020, the PUD chose not to go forward with our rate adjustment because of the impacts of COVID-19,” said Skolrood. “By waiting until after the winter, we have a better idea of where we will be financially and what we need to do to responsibly manage the 2021 budget.”

Infrared Scanners at Summit Pacific buildings

On Monday, Nov. 23, Summit Pacific Medical Center introduced new infrared scanners at its five building entrances to provide quick, no-contact temperature checks to screen employees, patients and hospital visitors for COVID-19.

The five scanners — at Summit Pacific Medical Center, Summit Pacific Wellness Center and McCleary Healthcare Clinic can screen visitors for fever while maintaining social distancing, within seconds. The new technology allows for greater efficiency and speed of entry and replace the process of an employee positioning a hand-held thermometer an inch from a person’s forehead.

“This technology improves the experience and increases the speed and safety of the screening process,” said Chief Nursing Officer, Tori Bernier. “Visitors and staff simply wear a mask, answer a few questions about their health, then walk into the facility and their temperature is automatically taken. It reduces the time it takes for them to enter and decreases the time they spend within 6 feet of others, keeping everyone safer.”

The infrared screenings are coupled with COVID-19 symptom questionnaires and universal masking.

Anyone registering over 100.4 degrees on an infrared scanner will be discreetly informed by a staff member and will either be given an alternative for their appointment, such as a virtual visit, or be seen in Summit Pacific’s Respiratory Care Unit.

State Auditor lauds PUD financials and accountability

An annual examination and report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office has given the Grays Harbor PUD high marks on financial statements and accountability. The report included no findings in the two areas and complimented the PUD for conducting the audit under rules set by the COVID response.

“I want to thank the Accounting Department and the PUD staff for their outstanding work. This report tells our customers that they can trust their PUD and as a public entity, trust and faith from the customers is vital,” said Board of Commissioners President Russ Skolrood.

The report by the SAO covered the period of January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019. In the area of accountability the report found that District operations complied in all material respects “with applicable state laws, regulations, and its (the PUD’s) own policies, and provided adequate controls over the safeguarding of public resources.” The final report also found that the PUD’s financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position (of the PUD).”

Normally carried out at the PUD offices, the 2020 audit was handled remotely in compliance with COVID-19 precautions. SAO staff complimented the PUD for providing all needed documents electronically and setting up virtual meetings as needed and closed Wednesday’s exit conference by saying that while many audits have been carried out under COVID restrictions “none have gone more smoothly and cleanly than this one.”

Timberland Bancorp appoints Kelly A. Suter to board of directors

Timberland Bancorp Inc. announced last week that Kelly A. Suter has been appointed to the Boards of Directors of the company and the nank. Suter has been appointed to serve on the board in place of Daniel Yerrington, who announced his retirement from Timberland’s boards having reached Timberland’s mandatory retirement age. Dan is the former CEO of South Sound Bank which Timberland acquired in October 2018.

Suter has developed extensive expertise in finance, enterprise technology, software development, and digital transformation. She has more than a decade of specialized experience in modernizing technology infrastructure in the highly regulated environments associated with utilities, banking, and outsourced payroll. Most recently, she served as the chief operating officer of Calico Energy in Seattle, where she led finance, services, operations, internal technology and data center activities, including cyber risk management.

“Kelly’s extensive experience in multiple disciplines includes a specific focus on technology. Her expertise in managing transformative change and using technology to enhance the customer experience will be vitally important as we continue to navigate the opportunities technology is now consistently and abundantly offering the banking industry,” commented Michael Sand, Timberland president and CEO.

Courtesy photo 
Summit Pacific’s Urgent Care entrance screening station is one of five in the Elma medical complex.

Courtesy photo Summit Pacific’s Urgent Care entrance screening station is one of five in the Elma medical complex.