Idyllwild Water adopts 2016-17 budget: Lower expenses mean more capital investment

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Last week, the Idyllwild Water District board adopted its fiscal year 2016-17 budget. The total budget (water and sewer programs) is expected to be $1.7 million, which is about $100,000 less than the current year. These amounts do not include capital program investments.

Revenues are estimated to be $2.3 million (the combination of both programs) compared to $2 million in the combined revenue budget for fiscal year 2015-16. However, actual revenue in the previous fiscal year was $2.3 million, according to the district’s audit.

“The district is in good financial shape based on your actions taken in previous years,” General Manager Tom Lynch told the directors.

IWD’s net operating margin would be about $550,000. The capital improvement program, which is estimated to require $800,000, will result in a combined net loss of about $260,000 for fiscal year 2016-17.

Capital investments are projected to be about $3.3 million. But federal and state grants and loans reduce IWD’s direct cost to about $800,000. The largest project will be completing plans and designs for the recycled water facility and, possibly the beginning of its construction. This project will cost nearly $2.1 million, all paid from grants and loans, according to Lynch.

At the urging of Director Steve Kunkle, the board added $100,000 for new well drilling next year. Also, Lynch had budgeted $225,000 for well rehabilitation to increase water supply.

The other major capital program is the planned pipeline replacement. Nearly a third of the total cost, $455,000, comes from a county grant.

While the dedicated reserve funds will decline from $650,000 to $390,000, IWD will still have about $2 million in other cash assets.

In water business, Lynch reported that the district is staying in Water Conservation Stage 2. Foster Lake remains empty, Lynch stated, and added that the groundwater level of several wells seems to be improving.

May’s water production was 6.4 million gallons, which was 112,000 gallons more than last May. Since January, production is 200,000 gallons less than the first five months of 2015.

May water revenues were $103,000, which is $7,300 more than the estimated budget and $12,000 more than May 2015, although production increased only 2 percent.

For the first 11 months of the fiscal year, production was 67.7 million gallons, which is about 10 percent less than the first 11 months of fiscal year 2014-15.

In other business, the district set July 20 as the date to hold a public hearing for its annual standby charges. These remain the same as last year, $30 per acre on unimproved property.

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