IWD board works the issues prior to vote

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The Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors met in special session with Interim General Manager Jack Hoagland and Chief Financial Officer Hosny Shouman for the second time this month to discuss items on the agenda for the regular June 21 meeting.

Both meetings were called by the board to better familiarize themselves with issues and policies prior to voting at the June 21 regular meeting.

Directors will be called upon to vote on three agenda items: rules and regulations for water, water service rate structure and the budget for fiscal year 2017-18. Both special meetings were properly noticed and all directors except Vic Sirkin attended.

Audience for both included press, and Sue Nash and Tom Paulek.

At the June 14 meeting, Hoagland suggested postponing discussion of water-rate structures associated with the district’s water contingency plan and not calling a vote on that agenda item. “I don’t think we’re going to run into water emergencies,” said Hoagland, noting last year’s more than average rainfall, “and there are definitely policy issues that need more discussion [prior to a vote.]”

Board discussion then focused on water rules and regulations. Hoagland updated the board with a summary of proposed changes to existing regulations. “All rules and regulations were completely reviewed with changes

made mostly in updating wording,” he noted. He then handed the board a list of significant changes, most salient of which are: District will not determine the size of water service for any customer but will follow determination of appropriate regulatory authorities (county building and safety, and fire departments); late charge period reduced from 30 to 25 days (consistent with revolving charge-cards’ policies); will-serve letters will expire 18 months after issuance, if not used; and liability for water use and/or loss restated as property owner’s responsibility, but once every four years, property owner may seek relief through reduction of usage rates to second-lowest tier after an extraordinary water loss.

Regarding reliance on regulatory agency determination of size of water service for any particular customer, Hoagland said, “The county regulates onsite usage. We try not to be involved on the customer’s side of the meter. If it looks good [to the county or other regulatory agency], then the user is going to pay for a lot of water. We’re not in the position of telling customers how many bathrooms they can have.” President Chip Schelly noted, “If the county were to approve something the board thinks is way out of line, the board could intervene.” “That’s part of the will-serve process,” Hoagland agreed.

Hoagland noted that the district’s infrastructure system is sized for fire flow. “We as a district have to be prepared every single minute for maximum [fire] demand.”

Regarding budget proposals for fiscal year 2017-18, Hoagland noted in a summary provided to the board that water operation base-rate revenues for both residential and commercial customers will stay consistent but that water base-rate and water sales revenues may increase due to selling of new water meters.

Proposed rate structures make residential base rates proportional to meter size with the first 300 units charged at base rate. (Units are cubic feet with 1 cubic foot equal to 7.48 gallons). Most district residential customers have 5/8-inch meters with a base rate of $29.70 (1,439 out of 1460 customers). For the first 300 units of water used (tier 1) customers will be charged $29.70; from 301 to 600 (tier 2) another 6 cents per unit or $18.93 will be added to the bill; from 601 to 1,500 units (tier 3), another 10 cents a unit or $89.90 will be added.

For commercial users, for the first 1,000 units of water used, $33.30 will be added to base rates; from 1,001 to 4,000 units (tier 2), $189.84 will be added; and from 4,001 to 8,000 units (tier 3) another $399.90 will be added.

The board packet, agenda and supporting materials for the June 14 special meeting are available on the district website, as is the agenda for the June 21 meeting. Visit www.idyllwildwater.com to view.

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