Water News…from the desk of Marlene E. King, SFID Dir., Div. 3

Water News…from the desk of Marlene E. King, SFID Dir., Div. 3

SFID June 18th Board Meeting:  Main focus was FY’21 Budget, adopted by a 3-1 vote; 3 Solana Beach Directors voting yes/King voting no.

As I discussed in my June column, my primary concern when voting on a budget is whether I think there is a reasonable expectation that revenues will cover expenses without digging into reserves to cover normal operating expenses. 

This is my sixth year representing SFID customers from Fairbanks Ranch and a large portion of the Covenant.  The following is a short look back at two factors of the FY’15 – FY’20 budgets:  1.) Cash and Cash equivalents on hand at end of each fiscal year and, 2.) Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) spend at end of each fiscal year.

FY’15 – year ending 6/30/15         Cash & Cash Equivalents…27.2 million           CIP spend…3.7 million

FY’16 – year ending 6/30/16                                                      23.8 million                               1.2  million

FY’17 – year ending 6/30/17                                                      17.8 million                              3.95 million  

FY’18 – year ending 6/30/18                                                      23.2 million                               1.9  million

FY’19 – year ending 6/30/19                                                      27.1 million                               1.7  million

FY’20 – year ending 6/30/20                                                      33.2 million                               2.6  million 

                                                                                                                                                 *  7.8  million  est. CIP spend FY’21

I don’t know what you might conclude from reviewing these numbers, but to my mind the fluctuation in cash on hand demonstrates the rate structure is inadequate to cover expenses without often digging into reserves. Case in point: the Prop. 218 notice required by our State Constitution mailed out March 2016 prior to adopting the 2016 rate increase (which was actually a decrease for 40 % of predominantly Solana Beach customers in the first year) stated that a rationale for increasing rates was, “Vital investments to repair and update aging facilities, many that have been long deferred.”  Do you see a build-up of reserves in years 2016 – 2018?  Do you see significant CIP spend to “…repair and update aging facilities…”?  Most of the CIP spend in the past five years has been the replacement of manual read water meters with new AMI meters.

 As I have remarked in previous columns, were it not for customers irrigating large properties in Fairbanks Ranch and the Covenant, the District would not have a prayer of meeting expenses.  As I stated at the June 18th Board meeting, with total potable sales for FY’21 now estimated to be 9,000 AF – when the COSS adopted six months ago was based on FY’21potable sales of 10,022 AF – there could be a significant revenue shortfall if the approximately 1,000 AF of reduced consumption occurs with customers who are subject to the newly instituted Tier 5.  

County Board of Supervisors appointed Frank Creede to fill opening for Div. 1 which covers western Covenant and eastern Solana Beach.  Thanks to the advocacy of the Rancho Santa Fe Association and their Board of Directors, Mr. Creede was appointed.  I look forward to serving on a five member board once again, with all Committee meetings again being held.  By the way, ALL Committee meetings can be “viewed” via Zoom.  Try attending a Zoom committee meeting – you may find it more informative than a Board meeting.

May residential potable water consumption was 416.2 residential gallons per capita per day.

AMI Meters:  All SFID Fairbanks customers have AMI meters.  Most Covenant customers have AMI meters; those who don’t will have them installed by spring 2021.  SIGN UP FOR THE SENSUS PORTAL AND SET A SENSITIVE THRESHOLD TO ALERT YOU WHEN YOU HAVE A LEAK, etc.  Get it done.  No excuses. 😉  A friend in Fairbanks has a bill of well over $1500.00 in unnecessary expense due to the gardener making a mistake when programming the controller.  A properly set water usage alert would have sent an email alert the first day in May when the incorrectly set controller watered one cycle for hours instead of minutes. 

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