At his second meeting, Jan. 13, El Dorado Irrigation District board president Director Alan Day asked that the staff rank Capital Improvement Projects in order of priority and asked that voting on any action item be put off to the next meeting “to think about and consider alternatives prior to actually voting.”
“When CIP projects are brought to the board it’s unclear on the ranking system,” Day said, adding he wanted an “additional ranking system based on money.”
“What if we had a 10 percent, 25 percent or 50 percent reduction in the budget? We’re not under the gun at the moment,” Day said.
“Every meeting we have Capital Improvement Projects. If we don’t put these in context, if the board integrates financial limits of the district ….There’s just no way for the board to come in 72 hours (after getting the agenda packet on Thursday) and put something in context,” said Director Greg Prada. “I’m not sure I’m asking the staff to put in a dollarized formula — put in 10, 25 percent. Where is the escape path?”
“I’m not saying cutting. It’s just an exercise,” Day said.
“Every project we approve brings us closer to the next debt offering,” Prada said.
“Assigning absolute priority is difficult to do. Every board meeting we have the option to approve or not,” said Director Bill George. “You have to admit regulatory (requirement) has priority over all. Safety and purity of water (are key).”
He also noted that the five-year Capital Improvement Project plan is brought back to the board every year for approval, but approving the plan does not approve any individual project.
“Rank things after that (regulatory and safety and purity of water),” said Director Dale Coco.
“Virtually everything is thrown into Category 1 and 2,” Day said.
“One of the things we have to do — Item No. 1 is regulatory,” George said. “The district was getting fined huge amounts — $100,000. We dodged a $2 million fine. We made a commitment to the regulatory agency. We dodged a $30 million expenditure.”
“Category 2 is security. It is the flume. A section of flume in Placer County was out 90 days, That is water for Cameron Park and El Dorado Hills,” George said. “I don’t have a problem saying can we afford to do this? It’s not just willy-nilly. We have a complex system that starts at 8,000 feet and ends at 300 feet (elevation),” George said.
“I just want to put things in context. I just think the current system doesn’t accomplish that,” Day said.
General Manager Jim Abercrombie said on Oct. 18, 2012, “We did such an exercise. Priority 2 is replace existing assets. Priority 3 is discretionary.”
He added that out of a five-year $85 million CIP there are 33 Priority 1 projects and 50 Priority 2 projects, which include recoating the inside of water tanks in El Dorado Hills and Outingdale.
“We try and identify what projects are most impactful and least impactful,” Abercrombie said. “The flume serves water to 30 percent of our customers.”
“The ratepayers don’t think the district has been fiscally responsible,” Prada said. “I want to move the timings around. I don’t want to get our underwear tied in a knot. Bottom line, there’s reason to spend less money. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean management can’t do this and the board.”
“Let’s come back in 30 days. Maybe we can do a mini-CIP,” Day said.
“If I have my preference we would have some workshops,” Abercrombie said.
“I’m surprised government regulations are No. 1, said Joe Fuller of Cameron Park. “Government regulations are notorious for being stupid.”
“No. 1 is safety. Government regulations are No. 2, “Abercrombie said.
On the issue of delaying action on a staff presentation and request until the next meeting so Day will have more time to think about the issue and maybe “have more public participation,” that item was left unresolved.
Director George Osborne suggested trying it for 60 days, but Day wanted six months.
The issue of ranking Capital Improvement Projects will be back on the agenda for the Feb. 10 meeting.
However, at the same Jan. 13 meeting the board voted 5-0 to approve three Capital Improvement Projects.
The biggest project was to install or replace five stationary generators to run water pumping stations in case of a power outage. The engineering staff analyzed 38 pumping stations and chose the five that were vital to maintain fire flows to the neighborhood’s fire hydrants. One was already replaced on an emergency basis at Strawberry after the El Dorado County Air Quality Management District cited the existing generator as polluting the air and levied a fine against the district. Agreeing to immediately replace the generator reduced the fine. That generator cost $46,800, with district staff doing the installation.
The low bidder, from among four bidders, for the other four generators came in at $18,950. With tax that adds up to over $195,400. Attributing EID construction crew costs to capital improvements is estimated at $55,550 plus $56,900 for materials such as concrete, $4,700 for permits and $14,900 for contingencies plus about $53,000 for purchase and installation of the Strawberry generator makes for a total of nearly $380,700.
The other unanimously approved CIP funding requests were $46,000 for the sewer lift station elimination study and $196,875 for the El Dorado Water & Power Authority’s pursuit of 40,000 acre-feet of area-of-origin water rights from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Upper Mountain Project in El Dorado County.