NID looks at rate increases
It appears Nevada Irrigation District’s water rates will continue to increase over the next few years, but by how much remains unknown.
Wednesday, NID directors were given several proposals that would raise rates and use reserve funds over five years to meet the goal of paying for operations with revenues. The formulas to meet the goal call for yearly increases ranging from 3 to 15 percent from 2005 through 2009 while using from $4.5 million to $9.5 million in reserves.
The different proposals would increase NID rates from 40 to almost 53 percent over that period. But directors were concerned about public outcry over rates that have increased steadily for the past 25 years and cutting into reserves that could be used to bolster a deteriorating NID water delivery system.
“Ten percent a year is not going to fly with the public,” board of directors member John Drew said.
“I hate to think we won’t have money for emergencies,” said member Paul Williams about the reserve funds. “There’s only $10 million we can really touch,” of the district’s $65 million in reserve.
“How do we sell this to the public?” asked Chairman George Leipzig.
“It will be more palatable if we use the reserves,” said member Nancy Weber.
Drew said he wanted the public to consider other cost increases in context with the proposed rate hikes. Consumers should remember that the value of their homes has increased along with insurance and energy costs, Drew said.
Williams said that, in essence, the proposals mirror how NID has been budgeting for the past few years, raising rates while dipping into reserve funds. General Manager Ron Nelson said the proposals represent a long-term approach to the fiscal goal, as opposed to a yearly scramble to balance the budget.
NID board member Scott Miller said proposed water sales to a booming Lincoln area could be another way to increase revenues to meet the operations goal. The directors said they want to explore new revenue streams for the goal and possibly use even more reserve funds.
The directors will revisit the proposals in a special meeting Monday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m.
In other news, board members:
• Voted 4-1 not to return ballots for the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District’s proposed assessment for property owners in the district. Weber is working to get the measure passed and voted against fellow board members who did not want to set a political precedent concerning another district’s tax measure.
• Approved a temporary plan to sell raw water to the Placer County Water Association, which would treat and then sell it to NID customers who also live within the booming city of Lincoln. The agreement will allow NID customers to get water while a a new NID treatment plant is built. Only Weber voted against it.
• Gave the nod for an annexation pilot project for the neighborhood at the corner of Brunswick and Loma Rica roads. The plan will waive annexation fees for those who already have NID water and postpone the fees for those who do not and want to hook up in the future. Miller and Williams abstained.
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