The June 20 meeting of the Fern Valley Water District Board of Directors
was dominated by financial actions, such as approving the fiscal year
2024-25 budget, a presentation from the district’s auditor, and a visit
from Curt Sauer, Interim general manager at Idyllwild Water District and
two of his staff.

Sauer has been with IWD since February. In his four and half months, he
has helped IWD. On Thursday, June he came to the FVWD Board to express
his gratitude for the help and assistance Victor Jimenez, FVWD general
manager, has given to him and the IWD staff. He also provided a letter
of appreciation.

“I am here with my staff to express my sincere appreciation for the
support from Mr. Jimenez,” Sauer said to the Board. “He made it clear we
could work together and went out of his way to make it happen.”

He also gave thanks to Jessica Priefer, the FVWD assistant general
manager, and Jim Nutter, FVWD’s chief field operator.

Sauer felt that both IWD and FVWD now have a firm and “ . . outstanding
cooperative rapport.”

After that gracious beginning of the meeting, the Board then had a
presentation from Jonathan Abadesco, C.J. Brown & Company CPAS, who
managed the audit of FVWD’s 2023 financial data. He described the audit
process and then concluded that in their assessment, FVWD had a clean
opinion, in compliance with accounting principles.

“We found no material weakness or significant deficiency,” he stated and
added, “Overall Jessica Priefer and Victor Jimenez did a good job, we
only made a few minor adjustments.”

After Abadesco’s audit summary, the Board approved four financial
resolutions. Three were procedural and the fourth was approval of the FY
2024-25 budget, since the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Director Chrissie Teeling had some questions about the vehicle purchases
in the budget, but there was no discussion to remove these. Priefer did
mention that the cost for the district’s worker’s compensation may be
lower next fiscal year than the current year.

The total budget will be $2.6 million, about $105,000 less than the
approved FY 23-24 budget. Revenue from water sales and property taxes is
projected to be $1.9 million, or $97,000 more than projected for this
year. But less than the actual collections of $1.96 million.
Nevertheless, the overall budget will produce a deficit of $670,000 and
reserves will be $736,000 at the end of FY 24-25. This is about half of
the current reserve level.

The operational portion of the budget will be $1.9 million, or nearly
75%. Employee salaries and social security will increase by about 6%.
The largest and dominant portion of the operating budget is for employee
benefits which will more than double to about $800,000.

The Board has decided to increase its payment to Cal Pers in order to
lower the long-term assessment for pension costs. Cash invested in the
State’s Local Agency Investment Fund earns significantly less interest
than what Cal Pers charges for unfunded pension costs. Consequently, the
Board had decided to put $500,000 in this account to lower future
expenses.

The capital budget includes funds for purchase of new vehicles for field
staff, a small pipeline project, and office expansion. The total capital
budget plan is to invest $670,000, nearly half of the current year's
capital costs of $1.2 million.

The Board also discussed a letter from Dave Sandlin regarding the work
to repair Tahquitz Shadows Road and FVWD’s participation. Since it is
not a Riverside County road, the property owners along it, including
FVWD, which needs it to access water storage tanks at its termination,
are responsible for its maintenance.

Jon Brown, Board chair, recommended that Jimenez hold further
discussions with Sandlin and, also, draft, and get signatures from the
property owners along the road for how these and future costs will be
assigned.

With respect to water supplies, Jimenez is quite satisfied with the
current conditions and told the Board, “Things are going really good.
The wells have recovered nicely.”

Groundwater production is 25% in May compared to 9% of the total in May

  1. That is largely due to the massive precipitation surge last
    winter.