Budget surplus expected
The Fern Valley Water District easily approved the location of a new disaster assistance station in the upper Fern Valley neighborhood last Friday.
Mike Feyder, president of Idyllwild’s Mountain Disaster Preparedness group, and Thom Wallace, director, approached the FVWD board in July 2017 about their interest in adding another DAS in Fern Valley. Currently, MDP has one at St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church. But several members thought a second Fern Valley DAS closer to Humber Park would improve service to the area.
The FVWD board unanimously approved locating the new facility at its property, Lot 6, on Fern Valley Road just before Upper Rimrock Road.
With the approval, Feyder said MDP would submit an application for a $5,000 grant to Southern California Edison. These funds would help equip the DAS.
But he stressed that MDP would install and equip it regardless of the outcome of the grant request. But the possible SCE funding would help MDP do so within a year rather than two or three with just MDP’s own funding.
The DAS houses first aid, search and rescue, and communication equipment. “This all for our community response team members in case of an emergency,” Feyder told the board.
Originally, MDP was asking to locate the DAS on the FVWD maintenance area, but General Manager Victor Jimenz recommended the Lot 6 area. “It has a chainlink fence, it’s further up Fern Valley and won’t affect the need to access the maintenance facility,” he told the board when recommending the action.
In other business, the board chose not to hire another full-time field staff. Instead, Jimenez recommended adding an intern during the summer season. This person could help with flagging on Fern Valley Road.
Next year, Jimenez will re-evaluate the need for hiring a third field staff member, who could help with the bigger projects.
This recommendation was also unanimously approved.
The board also reviewed the current budget for fiscal year 2017-18 through the end of the third quarter, March 31. Income has been slightly more than $910,000 and benefited from the January rate increase. Expected revenue in the final quarter may be $250,000 to $300,000.
Expenses have been about $760,000, resulting in an addition to reserves of slightly more than $150,000. Jimenez did say that the work on installing new hydrants may be postponed until next year.
“The district’s maps are inaccurate and we’re waiting to see if we can get better ones,” he stated. About $185,000 of the $195,000 project has not been spent and would carry forward to fiscal year 2018-19.
The board also proceeded with its announced intention to pay off the unfunded liability for its retiree health benefits. According to its actuary’s analysis, it would owe about $504,000 to bring the unfunded level to zero.
Director Jim Rees recommended paying half at the end of this fiscal year and the balance at the end of the next fiscal year. This should save FVWD annual interest payments amounting to about $20,000, which Cal PERS assesses on the unfunded balances.
In water business, Jimenez reported that all the well levels improved in March. The two creeks, from which FVWD diverts water, were running well. Perhaps the flow was creating too much of an excess of turbidity, which required treating the water. “That was a little challenge,” Jimenez said.