Reserves, pipelines, transparency all actions taken

Besides recommending annual increases for water and sewer rates over the next five years and a proposed fiscal year 2018-19 budget, the board of the Idyllwild Water District addressed several other matters during its April 18 meeting. (For rates, see accompanying story on page A1.)

Reserves

In other budget action, the board unanimously revised its goals for the reserve accounts. The total reserve goal was reduced $950,000. The new total is $4,050,000 rather than $5 million. The current cash level is $3.7 million, said Chief Financial Officer Hosny Shouman.

The Vehicle and Equipment Replacement Reserve is reduced $450,000 to $300,000 from the current goal of $750,000. The Capital Improvement Reserve is reduced $500,000 to $1.5 million.

Explaining his recommendation to reduce the vehicle replacement reserve, General Manager Jack Hoagland said, “A lot of old equipment has already been replaced since the original reserve level was set; $300,000 is more reasonable now.”

The previous goals were established in September 2015. The new goals will be reviewed annually, Hoagland told the board.

Pipeline replacement

The board also authorized Hoagland to begin developing preliminary plans for replacing pipe along Village Center Drive. If the board approves the plans, work will begin shortly after Labor Day and take about four weeks to complete, he said.

This project has been accelerated with the expectation that the Riverside County Roads Department will be repaving that area in 2019, according to its report to the Board of Supervisors this week.

Audio recordings of board meetings

The final fiscal decision was to put audio recordings of the board meetings on its newly revamped website. Previously, there was not enough capacity for audio files.

The board decided not to acquire new audio equipment, which would have enabled listeners to correlate the audio portion with the actual agenda item. Hoagland estimated this would have cost between $5,000 and $6,000.

In the audience, Tom Paulek, Idyllwild resident, strongly supported posting audios of the meetings and the new technology.

“It’s an insignificant cost and might set a precedent for the other [local] agencies,” he opined. “A very small amount to ensure the community is informed how the board functions.”

The first audio file will be for this meeting, April 18.

Water usage

Water consumption in March was 6 million gallons, or 1.1 million (24 percent), more than the March 2017 usage. For the first three months of 2018, IWD customers have used 17.5 million gallons of water, compared to 16.9 million in the first quarter of 2017.

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