PCWD’s non-water income under pressure: Lessees want lower rent

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Actual revenues for the Pine Cove Water District in fiscal 2013-14 came within $809 of the projected total of $760,000, but the board had to confront the question of whether its funds from communications leases will begin to erode in the future.

Several lessees, including Riverside County, have asked the district to consider lowering its annual fee or risk losing the lease.

“I told them there would be no changes this year. I need more information for the board to make a decision,” General Manager Jerry Holldber said to the directors. “I’ll get back to the board in a few months.”

PCWD has leased space at its Rocky Point facility to telecommunication providers for several years. Lessees include cell companies such as Sprint and government entities.

PCWD collects more than $160,000 annually from these leases. This amounts to slightly more than 20 percent of its revenue.

At the July 9 meeting, three separate lessees — Riverside County, Com-
tronix and Sprint — asked to renegotiate their leases, otherwise, they said, they may have to end them upon expiration.

“The board is sensitive to their situation, but also wants the water district to come out well,” affirmed Board President Michael Esnard. He then directed Holldber to find a solution satisfactory to the district and Comtronix.

Some of the directors were more sympathetic to the plight of the lone businessman rather than the county. However, Pine Cove resident Marge Muir reminded them that Pine Cove residents pay county property taxes, too.

Expenses for the fiscal year 2013-14 budget were about $7,000 more than projected, at $832,237, which was about $73,000 more than revenue. Reserves supplied the difference, which was largely for capital investments when the budget was adopted in 2013.

During the year, the district purchased a lot on Franklin Drive and repaired its tractor. Also Holldber purchased sufficient pipe for the current project and future work.

“I’m still expecting to put in 5,000 feet [of pipeline] this year,” he said. “It all depends on the weather.” During 2013-14, his crew was able to install about 4,000 feet of new pipeline.

Salaries and benefits totaled about $440,000, or more than half of all expenses, but were 2 percent under the projected budget amount. Holldber also announced that final payment ($33,000) to CALPERS for post-employment benefits, other than retirement, is now fully funded.

Future payments will keep the account current.

“The amount was refigured and this is the last payment,” Holldber told the board. “Now we have no unfunded liability.”

In water business, PCWD produced 4 million gallons of water in June, compared to 3.6 million last year. For the first half of 2014, PCWD customers have used about 25,000 gallons more than during the first six months of 2013.

“It’s dry and summer is here,” Holldber said about the production. “Also I think recent years are closer to normal than not. The past 50 years were probably wet and 15 to 20 inches is more normal. This year, the problem is most of the rain fell last summer and not much in the winter.”

 

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