Jim Billman, re-elected president of Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors. Photo by JP Crumrine
Jim Billman, re-elected president of Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors.
Photo by JP Crumrine

Jim Billman was re-elected as president of the Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors. John Cook was re-elected as vice president. Both have held these board positions since January 2014.

This year the vote was not unanimous. New Director Steve Kunkle nominated Cook for the presidency and Billman as the vice president after Director Mike Freitas moved to continue the current administration. The vote was 3-1-1 in favor of Freitas’ motion. Director June Rockwell abstained from voting.

In financial business, the board accepted the recommendation of General Manager Tom Lynch and Chief Finance Officer Hosny Shouman to issue a new contract for the district’s auditor to Rogers, Anderson, Malody & Scott, LLP of San Bernardino. This firm has been performing IWD audits since fiscal year 2010-11.

Two other accounting firms — Teaman, Ramirez & Smith Inc. of Riverside and Fedak & Brown LLP of Cypress — submitted bids to conduct the IWD audits for the next three fiscal years. Teaman has done audits for Hill special districts in the past and Fedak is the current Idyllwild Fire Protection District auditor.

Although the RAMS bid was not the lowest of the three submitted, IWD staff recommended its proposal because of “… uncertainty with both TRS and Fedak & Brown for additional fee charges … staff believes the district would be best served by the firm of Rogers, Anderson, Malody & Scott.” For fiscal year 2015-16, the audit will cost IWD about $9,250.

“RAMS is the current firm and their work is satisfactory,” Lynch stated. “They warrant continuing.” The board unanimously adopted the recommendation.

At 7-million gallons, water production in January was 750,000 gallons greater than the January 2015 production, a 12-percent surge. As a result, water revenues were $102,000, or $12,000 greater than a year ago. While residential sales declined slightly, commercial water sales increased nearly $20,000, to $35,100.

This was the first increase in January’s water production since 2013, when freezing weather caused significant leaks throughout the district. This year, many leaks on the customers’ premises were identified and the customers notified.

Not only were water revenues more last month, but expenses for the water program declined $12,000, resulting in a net income of more than $24,000.

In response to Cook’s question about whether the expenses would remain lower throughout the year, Lynch didn’t expect this trend to continue. Many charges vary by month and a lower January cost may not continue.

For the year of 2015, total production was 74.5 million gallons, 10.5 million gallons less than the 2014 production.

IWD remains in Stage 2 water emergency, Lynch told the board, and added that Foster Lake finally had a puddle. “Hopefully, El Niño will manifest itself in the next month,” he opined and expressed some concern for the slow re-charging of some IWD wells.

IWD has been notified that its recent Community Development Block Grant application for water-line replacement is eligible for funding. Lynch plans to attend a future Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting to advocate for funding the proposal, which would replace about 3,000 feet of old and deteriorated pipeline.