By Ted AYALA
Rising costs of acquiring water from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) have forced the Crescenta Valley Water District (CVWD) to adopt a 2011-12 budget that rests upon rate increases to be passed down to its customers.
According to the new budget, CVWD expects to raise an estimated $8.2 million in revenue from the proposed rate increases. Proposed rate increases, which are pending a final approval in September, will not be implemented until 2012. The first proposed rate hike would be a 4.9% increase in January 2012 followed by a 3.2% increase the following June.
The rise in costs from the MWD is owed in large part to widespread water conservation measures which has sapped the agency’s revenues. The CVWD relies on the Foothill Water District (FWD) for a major portion of its water, which, in turn relies on the MWD.
A source of friction was the present budget’s reliance on $10 million in bonds to help maintain the GWP’s infrastructure.
CVWD board member Judy Tejada loudly voiced her disapproval of the budget.
“There is a lot of gray area here,” she said. “The ultimate cost to our ratepayers is unknown. How is our financial committee going to nail this down?”
Fellow board member James Bodnar reminded his colleagues that approval of the bond measures has yet to be approved.
“The board has not made a final decision whether or not we would get the $10 million in bond money,” he explained.
The importance of passing the budget in a timely manner was urged on by board member Ken Putnam, who also reminded that the budget may be amended as needed later.
“This isn’t about bond money versus pay-as-you-go. This is about getting a budget out on time. We’ll adopt the budget, but with the caveat that the financial committee examine the details that need to be refined,” Putnam said.
Board member Bodnar chimed in: “This budget isn’t a blank check to spend $9 million.”
Ultimately, the CVWD board voted three-to-one in favor of the new budget, with Judy Tejada voting against it and Kerry Erickson absent from the meeting.