NID to slow its rate hikes? |

NID to slow its rate hikes?

Ratepayers who have seen steady increases over the last quarter-century may get a reprieve from the Nevada Irrigation District next year.

On Monday, district officials unveiled a proposal that would use part of the district’s $65 million in reserves and working funds to help pay for operations. NID ratepayers have been paying for the rising cost of operations in recent years, but the proposal could slow the trend.

“We want to use these reserves in such a way to bring stability over the long term,” said NID General Manager Ron Nelson. “We’re looking at different scenarios to see what will work.”

The district is committed to funding operations strictly from revenues, but that magic mark has been elusive. Last year the district had to take $6 million from reserves and cut its project list to balance the budget.

District officials are now conceding that rate increases may not be the only way to meet the goal. Finance Manager Tess Andrews said the district could now dip into the revenue, depreciation and watershed improvement reserve funds to reach it over the next several years.

“It’s fine with me,” said board member John Drew at the meeting of the district’s Administrative Practices Committee. “It’s much more workable.”

In other district news:

• Drew and fellow committee member George Leipzig listened to a new plan that could get treated water to people with the aid of loans. Chief Engineer Tim McCall said neighborhoods could apply for loans to finance pipelines to their homes and pay it back in their water bills.

Both McCall and Nelson said the plan has no particular development in mind and is purely conceptual at this point.

“This is for landowners who need treated water,” Nelson said, and is not for speculative house builders.

Many landowners seeking treated water for household uses in recent years have balked at NID’s high upfront costs. The plan could help relieve the problem and meet the mission of delivering water to anyone in the district who wants and can pay for it.

• A pilot plan to annex a neighborhood along Brunswick Road between Loma Rica Road and East Bennett Street was unveiled by board Secretary Lisa Tassone. The plan would waive annexation fees for those who already have NID water service and postpone the fees for those who do not and choose to hook up in the future.

“This will make a lot of people happy,” Drew said.

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