NID adds more expenses, but it’s no call for worry
Nevada Irrigation District has caught flak in the past for its multimillion-dollar financial reserves.
For example, a Nevada County grand jury recommended in December 2000 that NID hold off on a 1.8 percent rate increase, pending further study, because the water agency had $43 million in the bank.
But at a public workshop Wednesday, NID officials discussed scenarios under which the agency’s deep pockets could conceivably be empty in five years.
NID staff drew up a list of 155 projects they would like to work on over the next five years, ranging from installing new pipelines to upgrading water treatment plants.
If NID does all these projects by 2007 – and officials aren’t sure that will happen – the water agency would have $17 million left in savings, once expected revenues are added in.
However, most of the projects are proposed for this year or 2003. After that, the list thins out.
“Then our crystal ball gets a little hazy,” said NID chief engineer Tim McCall.
To be safe, NID officials tacked on $5 million in unspecified expenditures for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. That additional $20 million would bring total expenditures to roughly $63 million, leaving the water agency more than $3 million in debt by 2007.
“This is not meant to be alarming,” said McCall, who later said the project list is a “living document” that changes over time and is meant to show the spectrum of possible expenses.
NID director Nancy Weber, who represents the area around Nevada City, suggested, “Just don’t take it seriously, and then you’ll be good.”
Director R. Paul Williams of Placer County said, “This is just a guide.” But he added, “Our reserves are going down, there’s no doubt about it.”
Director Ernie Bierwagen defended the savings as prudent.
So did director Scott Miller of southern Nevada County, who said, “We’re proud of our reserves. They’re there. They’re good.”
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