El Dorado Irrigation District Expected to Approve New Rate Structure
Carlos Alcalá, sacbee.com, Mar. 24, 2012Monday night's vote by the El Dorado Irrigation District board is expected to set rates through 2015, but it is unlikely to end rate arguments.
"It's kind of the culmination of a year and a half of study," said EID General Manager Jim Abercrombie.
The district appointed a citizens committee in 2010 to study district costs and how those should be allocated among customers. EID held workshops and public meetings and even included a prominent district critic on the study committee.
The result is Monday's vote on a new rate structure that would add more than $3.5 million to the district's revenues this year.
Criticism is sharp.
"They just flat out are saying to heck with the ratepayers," said Greg Prada, a district gadfly who was on the cost study committee.
"My issue is that EID spends a lot of money," he said. "They spend more on overhead than they do on people in the field."
The district, serving a population of around 100,000 on the west side of El Dorado County, has been in the spotlight since the introduction of a plan to raise rates 35 percent in 2010. Although the district said hikes were needed to pay for maintenance that had been long deferred and a new, state-mandated treatment plant, that increase was eventually halved.
Under pressure to reduce costs, the district has cut from 305 employees to 220 in recent years, Abercrombie said, though critics counter that cuts have been more severe in other local government agencies.
"The new general manager (Abercrombie) has done some good stuff," conceded Alan Day, a district board member elected in 2011 by voters angry at the rate hikes. ...