The El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors found themselves facing more than the prospect of giving the OK to a list of potential 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Projects as concerned ratepayers voiced concerns about the expenditures.
The Oct. 9 meeting at EID headquarters started quietly as Brian Mueller, director of Engineering, told board members that the five-year plan estimated expenditures to be at about $86.4 million.
“For 2013, the planned expenditures are estimated at $19.8 million,”Meuller said. “Goals for actual expenditures are typically about 70 percent of the plan. Some of the more significant projects for 2013 include the Flume 41 replacement, Reservoir A Water treatment Plant chlorine conversion and Mother Lode force main replacement. Altogether there are 100 projects included in the plan for 2013.”
He added the CIP is simply a planning document. Staff brings individual projects before the board for funding approval throughout the year.
A draft of the CIP had been presented to the board on Sept. 11, followed by a site tour of some of the projects included in the plan. On Sept. 26, a public workshop was held to inform the public about the plan.
EID staff then updated the descriptions and funding status of ongoing projects and developed a priority level according to established three-level criteria.
In summary, the 2013 CIP includes projects in hydroelectric, wastewater, water, general district needs, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project 184 requirements, recreation and recycled water.
“I would suggest that we consider Option 3,” Director Alan Day said. “What I would like to see since this is a planning document that staff go back and work up some alternate scenarios. I think that would be useful for all of us.”
Director Bill George pointed out that the thing to remember is that the CIP is simply a plan and all of the suggested work on the plan is based on funding availability at the time when each project is presented to the board.
“If we don’t keep the system up, it will deteriorate,” George said. “Every day it deteriorates a little bit. It’s just the way stuff is. My personal opinion is we move forward and as we progress through the year, we look at each item as it comes before the board and make a determination.”
Director George Osborne emphasized that the CIP is a plan.
“I ask you, which project are we not going to do?” Osborne asked. “A lot of those are mandated by the state or the facilities are going to collapse and we’re going to lose a third of our water supply. I ask you, which of these projects are we not going to do? How are we going to fund them? What priority will be done? That’s up to the board as they bring the projects to the board.”
He added some of the flumes were built to supply water to the mines and some of the infrastructure was built 60 years ago.
“We’re charged as public agency to deliver a utility and we have to do what is required for us to do it,” Osborne said.
Day said he wasn’t suggesting the board not do anything, but said he would like to see alternatives than what is being presented.
Some members of the public in attendance at the meeting agreed.
“At some point, somebody has to say no,” said area resident Sue Taylor. “I believe in saying no when people are in debt and need to get out of it. I’m a building designer and I like to see an overall plan when I do things. If I was presented a plan, I get nervous if I don’t go back through and say,’Let’s look at each one of these,’ do we really want it in our Capital Improvement Plan that’s sitting there and somebody that isn’t as thorough as we are going through these? I am wondering how many of these projects are going to be for future growth and in this economy do we really want to put the money out for that kind of stuff?”
She added she is not against growth, but there is time and a season. She also said the decisions impact the ratepayers.
“We’ve dona almost everything you’ve recommended,” George said. “If you look through the plan, everything in there is prioritized. They didn’t just come up with this in the last week. They work on this constantly.”
Area resident Carol Lewis said residents in the county are weary of rate increases and bonding.
“If I believed what you said about being frugal and making the best choices and conducting EID in a manner which protects the ratepayers, we wouldn’t be standing or sitting in this building,” Lewis said. “I think you’ve squandered the good faith from the community by over-bonding. I think you need to take a step back.”
Cameron Park resident Greg Prada said he felt spending 45 minutes on an $85 million plan was a waste of time. He questioned the prioritizing system and questioned where the funding was coming from.
After hearing comments and making some additional comments, Directors George, Osborne, John Fraser, and George Wheeldon voted to approve the CIP, with Day being the lone no vote.