EID engineers whittle down hookup fee

By From page A1 | August 16, 2013

Hoookup fees went from bad to better Monday when the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors heard an updated report from Engineering Director Brian Mueller.

After meeting with development community representatives in July and early August, the engineering staff revised the Facility Capacity Charges (hookup fees) for water from $24,680 in El Dorado Hills to about $20,600, and from $20,500 in the rest of the district to $16,625. Then the staff combined the two and came up with $17,578 for a districtwide water hookup.

That compares to $15,750 for El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park in effect since 2008 and $16,300 for the rest of the district in effect since 2008.

The presentation Monday was an information-only item. The board will act on the issue Aug. 26.

Director Alan Day estimated the increase over five years to be about 7-8 percent. “Pretty good. Not bad at all. It’s relatively easy. We can make incremental changes instead of making complicated” formulas, he said.

Mueller noted that the staff used the Engineering Construction Cost Index as a guide to replacement costs for district assets.

After going back to his desk to do some calculations Finance Director Mark Price returned to say the water FCCs increased 1.6 percent annually from 2006 compounding to the 2013 revised proposal.

The proposed hookup charges were lowered from what had previously been proposed by subtracting out depreciation from the replacement value of fixed assets and removing all water lines 6 inches in diameter or less — about 33 percent of water lines.

“(Current) Customers won’t be paying for capacity expansion. We’ll have reserves to pay for them,” said General Manager Jim Abercrombie.

The projected revenue from hookup fees is estimated to total up to about $254 million by 2030, though capital project expenditures haven’t been projected out that far. By 2025 FCC revenue is projected to total about $157 million and capital projects are estimated to cost $151 million, leaving a reserve of a little over $16 million in total reserves for capital projects.

Besides revised hookup charges for potable water service the wastewater and recycled water hookup fees were recalibrated downward. Current FCCs for the El Dorado Hills Wastewater Treatment Plant service area and the Deer Creek WWTP service area are about $13,400 and were proposed to be $16,000 and $14,000, respectively. Instead those were toned down to $13,600 and $12,000, respectively. Combined as one rate the proposal now is $12,862 for a sewer hookup.

Recycled water for landscape watering, currently $4,500, was proposed to be $3,900 and is now revised to $3,046 by removing the proposed storage facility.

Scott Whyte of the North State Building Industry Association and Bob Shattuck of Lennar homes both praised the EID engineering staff for being “constructive” and for “transparency” during meetings with developers’ representatives. They also, along with Kirk Bone from Parker Development asked to have the recycled water FCC lowered because of its water saving potential. Whyte said it costs about $5,500 a house to do the dual plumbing and Shattuck pegged the cost at $6,000.

“We need a little bit of credit on the supply side,” Bone said.

Director Alan Day suggested combining the recycled water FCC with the potable water FCC.

“If we see it as a way to extend our water supply it’s a benefit to the whole district,” Day said.

Director Bill George said he favored the one-district approach to hookup fees, but wanted “to keep recycled separate.”

Michael Raffety

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