The Fern Valley Water District Board of Directors approved a $1.5 million budget for fiscal 2012-13, which starts July 1. For income, the budget anticipates a slight decline in tax income and a marginal increase in water sales ($42,000 more than fiscal 2011-12). The budget also plans more for engineering for a Fern Valley Road Pipeline Improvement Project and increases in employee benefits to account for a retiring employee’s post-employment benefits as well as estimated benefits for a new employee.

A previously approved water tier rate increase helps the district return to the black for fiscal 2012-13. The rate increase was originally approved in 2009 and provided for incremental price increases over a five-year period. The penultimate increase is scheduled to kick in for fiscal 2012-13. For example, in tier one (0-1,400 cubic feet used), pricing increases 18 percent from $3.12 to $3.70 per 100 cubic feet. In the second tier (1,401 to 3,000 cubic feet used), the increase is from $7.60 to $9.00; and for tier three (more than 3,001 cubic feet), from $12.05 to $14.00, a 16 percent increase.

Fiscal 2011-12 anticipated a net loss of $126,000 because of a $450,000 pipeline replacement project. Next year’s fiscal budget anticipates a net positive of $257,000.

The board also voted to conditionally approve a grant of easement to Director Jim Rees, conditioned upon seeing the grant language and property description. Rees was absent when the conditional approval was issued. Rees will pay all costs.

General Manager Steve Erler in his report said that well production is up from last year because of the need to begin diverting to long-term storage.