Recent estimates by WMU officials show that the utility is facing about $55 million of federally mandated projects in its consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Winchester City Commission has also directed WMU to build a new $42 million water treatment plant over the next four years to meet growing water demand.
To pay for it all, Book said the city should help WMU seize on grants and take advantage of low-interest loan opportunities from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority - two strategies that allowed WMU to build the new $25 million Strodes Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant without a rate increase.
"We can find money somewhere to do that without raising the rates very much at all," he said. "WMU just needs to buckle down."
Book said WMU can save money by not replacing employees who quit or retire. He also suggested the WMU avoid buying new vehicles, have meter readers drive smaller vehicles and perform some of the company's capital projects using in-house equipment and labor.
Book added that WMU needs to better scrutinize work performed by contractors.
"There has been a lot of stuff the contractors have been doing, and the city has had to go back and fix it because they didn't do the job right," he said.
Earlier this year, the city commission authorized WMU to implement small, inflation-based rate increases of up to 3 percent on an annual basis.
When asked if he would support additional rate hikes above the annual rate increases, Book said he would have to study the matter when it came to the commission.
The Winchester Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in June for a $19 million 2008-09 budget. The spending plan projects $13.6 million in general fund expenditures and another $4.8 million of spending in the capital fund.
Although the spending plan is projected to end the year with a $2.16 million reserve in the general fund and a $2.24 million reserve in the capital equipment fund, expenses would exceed revenue in the general fund by about $1.2 million, according to calculations.
Early forecasts also indicate that the city's general fund reserve may dip below $800,000 by the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year.
If elected, Book said he would not vote in favor of a 2009-10 budget that projects less than a $2 million reserve, which is considered the minimum amount of reserve under the commission's own policy.
"We've got some to play with if something comes up between now and July that we can use and still have the reserve," he said.
He pointed out that the city has already sent letters out to community organizations warning of future budget cuts. He said the city's annual funding transfers to local organizations will endure the largest of next year's scalebacks.
The most important elements in the budget, Book said, are salaries and benefits for city employees and public safety expenditures.
"Those are the two biggest expenses we've got," he said. "Those are two items we've got to take care of."
Book pledged not to vote for any tax increases and stressed that the commission voted for lower property tax rates this year. He also said growth in local property assessments will allow the city to reap more revenue this year.
Book advocates a proactive approach to recruiting restaurants and retail businesses to Winchester and said he would specifically like to see a more aggressive plan to bring White Castle, Cracker Barrel and Steak 'n' Shake to town.
"People are wanting White Castle in here because they don't want to have drive all the way to Richmond or Lexington," he said. "So we need to start contacting White Castle now to get one in."
Book said the site of the vacant Popeye's building on the Bypass and land across from the Clark County Board of Education headquarters on Lexington Avenue would serve as prime locations for new restaurants.
Book also supports encouraging development to locate along the Veterans Memorial Parkway on the eastern side of town, which he said would help alleviate traffic on Lexington Avenue and the Bypass.