After several months of negotiating, the Pine Cove Water District directors last week unanimously agreed to change the terms of their lease with Riverside County for a Rocky Point cell tower. The county initiated the request last summer.
The amendment to the existing lease, which will be effective April 1, will increase the rental payment 5 percent to $2,443.33 monthly. PCWD has agreed to reduce its annual increase beginning next April from 5 to 4 percent. PCWD’s annual increase remains one of the largest the county has accepted. The lease will be for five years with automatic options for extensions.
“We felt it was the right thing to do,” said Director Robert Hewitt. “There are a lot of benefits for not playing hard ball.”
The board also agreed to revised language, not involving the rental cost, for its lease with Crown Castle.
In other action, the board also unanimously approved its annual standby charges. These remain at $30 per acre per year. A public hearing on the resolution will be scheduled for June.
During the public-comment period, resident Marge Muir posed some questions about the district’s proposed water-rate increases, which will be presented at a public hearing.
“I’m concerned about what is the district willing to give up while the public is paying up?” she asked. “Are you still planning to raise the rates at the hearing?”
In response, President Michael Esnard said these would be addressed at the public hearing on the proposed rate increases, which has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 1. Depending upon the comments, the board will decide on the implementation date at the hearing.
In water business, PCWD customers used 1.9 million gallons of water in February, which was nearly 760,000 less than January and 30,000 gallons less than February 2014. During the month, General Manager Jerry Holldber reported that the groundwater level of PCWD’s monitoring well no. 10 had dropped 2 feet to 124 feet below the surface.
“Well 10 is down a couple of more feet, but several other wells have come up since the rains,” he said. “Wells are up and down. It depends on how much we pump these wells.”