Water production less in September

Financial reports dominated the Pine Cove Water District meeting Wednesday, Oct. 11. General Manager Jerry Holldber reported on the current budget balance for fiscal year 2017-18 and Terry Shea, the district’s auditor, reported his findings for the completed 2016-17 audit.

Through Sept. 30, PCWD’s expenses for fiscal year 2017-18 have exceeded its revenue by about $53,000. This was caused by the seasonal variation of revenue.

During the first quarter of the fiscal year, Riverside County does not distribute any property tax payments to special districts. The first property tax receipts will be received in December. Also, only the August billing period for customer payments for water usage occurred in this quarter.

One of the good trends from last year continued. PCWD sold two more water meters in the first quarter, which was the projection for the whole year.

Total revenue was about $162,000 and expenses were about $215,000, which included some, such as insurance, that were for the full year. This is why the balance for the Service and Supplies, and the Equipment and Loans accounts were more than 30 percent in one quarter.

Director Joel Palmer noted that the district’s legal costs had already exceeded 40 percent of the year’s projection. However, Vice President Diana Luther, in the absence of President Robert Hewitt, replied that there was an unexpected and unusual situation (the water theft) this quarter.

Once again, Terry Shea of the auditing firm Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott of San Bernardino, said PCWD’s “… financial statements report fairly the year’s transactions. We had no disagreement with management.”

The district’s net position, as of June 30, 2017, was $2.7 million, an increase of $130,000 during the year. “Last year, the net position only increased $4,000,” said Brianna Schultz of RAMS.

For the year, the long-term debt increased $50,000. Although the amount owed on loans and notes decreased $40,000, the potential pension liability increase offset that reduction.

The pension liability increase was largely attributable to CalPERS investment conditions. PCWD’s actual pension liability decreased during the year, but the CalPERS fiduciary situation deteriorated some, which resulted in an increase in the PCWD obligations, on paper. Next year, CalPERS investments might increase substantially.

“Our operating revenues were up and the operating costs down,” Holldber said. “Our carry-over cash was better. Overall, we’re headed in the right direction. Although we’re not a rich district, every year we’re better.”

And Shea responded, “Yes, you are an improving system.”

In other financial matters, the board approved the purchase of a new tractor with backhoe. And Holldber reported that the Board of Supervisors, at its Oct. 3 meeting, approved the reimbursement, up to $55,000, to the district for construction of shade cover over the fuel-tank station that PCWD and Cal Fire/Riverside Fire Department Station 23 share. The source of the funds will be from County Service Area 38’s account, according to the agreement with the county.

In water business, Holldber reported that 2.9 million gallons of water were produced in September.

“That is back to a normal level,” he told the board.

The 2017 September volume is 220,000 gallons less than in September 2016. Since January, water production is about 4.1 million gallons more than the first nine months of 2016, but the apparent water theft increased production this year.

For September, the unexplained water usage was 9 percent, the lowest level in many months, Holldber reported and said, “We’re back to single digits and that is an acceptable level.”

The groundwater level of the district’s static well, no. 10, did not change in September. “That is the first since February that didn’t drop,” Holldber said. “But other district wells’ groundwater level did increase. Water is still moving through the ground.”