I was puzzled when I learned how many employees Idyllwild Water District currently employs and started to think about it. I thought about how many employees they have had at any one time in the past, what was accomplished with those numbers and also, how many employees the other two water districts on the Hill currently have.

I looked at all the water districts as best I could with my limited facts and time. They are all different so I could not compare them apples to apples.

They all have different operating budgets, different capital budgets, different water treatment/distribution systems. One installs its own water lines itself, one has a sewer system, and they all have different numbers of customers they service.

Pine Cove: roughly 1,100 water customers, one general manager, one full-time, one part-time office workers, and two full-time, one to two part-time field workers. They install their own water main lines themselves.  That’s four full-time and two to three part-time employees, depending on the season.

Fern Valley: roughly 1,200 water customers, one general manager, one full-time office worker and two full-time field workers. That’s four full-time employees.

Idyllwild: roughly 1,600 water customers/600 sewer customers, one general manager, one chief financial officer, three full-time office employees and six full-time field employees. (The office secretary is retiring and being replaced by one of the other office workers. Will they hire another office worker when that time comes?)  That’s 11 full-time employees currently.

Why does Idyllwild Water have that many employees (six in the field and five in the office) compared to the other two water districts?  You might tell me that’s because Idyllwild has a sewer plant they need six field employees.

Well from my experience, the staffing for the sewer plant is (this might sound weird) 1.5 persons so that leaves 4.5 persons for the rest of the field work. If Idyllwild was installing its own water main lines, I might think 4.5 persons would be fine, along with taking care of the water and distribution system. But it is not installing its own lines. Idyllwild is the only district with a chief financial officer. Why is that?

Maybe the water district can justify the number of employees giving the ratepayers the value it deserves, but could it also be another example of big-government complexity going wild.

I hope it’s the first one. I’m still puzzled, you decide.

Steven Kunkle