The Pine Cove Water District’s draft budget for 2016-17 increases $29,000 or 3.5 percent. Last week, General Manager Jerry Holldber presented a draft $850,000 fiscal 2016-17 budget to the board of directors, who reviewed it. The board plans to take action on the budget at its June 8 meeting.

The small increase in revenue is a combination of growing property taxes and increases in the lease payments for the Rocky Point Communication site.

While salaries and benefits remain level with this year, Holldber added $15,000 for services and supplies. Within this budget account, maintenance of the system was increased to $30,000 from $18,000 and structural maintenance was increased $5,000, primarily for re-painting. Several other line-items were reduced for a net increase of $15,000.

“System maintenance is growing partly because of the costs for fittings, valves and other equipment, but the big thing I’m recommending is to do another leak survey of the district,” Holldber told the board.

Board member Diana Luther concurred with this recommendation saying, “I’m in favor because of my concern for the water losses.” The water loss hovered around 10 percent during 2015. In February, it approached 12 percent, but dropped to 10 percent in April.

Smaller increases were proposed for other programs such as communications, office expenses, engineering, legal costs and state permits. Helping to offset these increases were proposed decreases for utility costs and vehicle maintenance.

The system improvements account was also a priority. Holldber allocated an additional $14,000 to increase the total to $100,000. These funds will augment moneys for well upgrades, pipeline replacements and work on the district’s property and structures. The cost of pumps is increasing along with other water system equipment and materials, Holldber noted. The meter replacement program was decreased by $6,000, but remains at  leaving $7,000 for this year. A supply of new meters will still be available next fiscal year.

Following the review of the proposed budget, Holldber discussed a report on the cost of the rain barrel program with the board. Since 2012, PCWD has purchased 276 rain barrels. The district has sold 268 barrels, of which 118 were sold with a  $12.81 subsidy. The total subsidy of  $1,511 was charged to the conservation budget. Two barrels were donated to local organizations — the Earth Fair and the Soroptomists. The other six, PCWD kept for its use and re-imbursed the conservation fund full cost.

In water business, Holldber reported that production was 2.2 million gallons in April, which was 360,000 gallons more than March, but 376,000 gallons less than April 2015. For the first trimester of 2016, total water production has declined 1.2 million gallons (14 percent) compared to the first four months of 2015.

“Production last month was the least amount of water produced in many, many years,” Holldber said. “Demand is down.”

He also noted that the groundwater level of the district’s static well had increased one foot in April, which was a positive sign.

Board President Robert Hewitt attributed the improvement to both the customers’ conservation efforts as well as the spring rains.

The district’s ad hoc committee to revise Ordinance 4, district water policies, met several times last month. Member Joel Palmer said they were nearly finished and hoped to present a final draft to the whole board in July.