The Turlock Irrigation District Board on Nov. 18 and was presented the 2015 Budget which includes a proposal to increase irrigation rates.
The rates, as proposed, would increase cost to irrigation customers by more than double. Presently, customers are charged $8.25 per acre-foot in a normal year, based on water available to each customer.
The proposed increase would bump the blended charge up to $17.50 per acre-foot. Additionally, the fixed charge customers pay would be $60 per acre, up from $23.
Irrigation customers now have 45 days to protest the rate increase, or they can be approved at the Jan. 13 public hearing.
TID and the Modesto Irrigation District have long had the lowest rates amongst the area water districts. The proposed rate increase would make TID charge the third most expensive — only behind Patterson Irrigation District and Merced Irrigation District.
However, according to TID reports, neighboring irrigation districts are also increasing or planning to increase irrigation rates.
Larry Gilbertson, TID AGM of Electrical Engineering and Operations
attributed routine expansion to address customer growth and the need to upgrade lines as contributing factors to the increases.
Also noted was the deficit between the $2.9 million in anticipated budgeted miscellaneous rates and fees in comparison to the $1.9 million actually received.
TID staff proposed increasing the fixed charge component of the existing water rate schedules which would increase the cost of water by varying amounts depending on the amount of water that is used. There are separate rate schedules for normal and dry years.
The proposed irrigation rate adjustment is based on the unaccounted water revenue, annual and 2013-14 revenue shortfall, membership and government relations costs, the SBx 7-7 Project, Lateral 8 Regulating Reservoir Project, Lateral 8 Total Channel Control Project, Critically Dry Year Annual Collection, Palm Street Operations Complex Project and the Water Master Plan.
Landowners subject to acreage based rates, per the State Constitution, have the right to protest the implementation of any new fees. Should a majority of local landowners protest TID’s rate increase, there is the possibility that new charges may not be implemented.
There is a 45-day notification period prior to the Board’s consideration of increasing fees. The District is proposing that a notice be mailed to landowners with access to irrigation facilities with an explanation of proposed increases with directions on how to file a protest.
Affected irrigation customers must protest the fee hike before or at the proposed Jan. 13 meeting and will receive this notice in the mail regarding the matter.
Only those affected are able to protest; they may be dropped off or submitted via the Postal Service to the Executive Secretary at the TID Main Office, at 333 E. Canal Dr. in Turlock. All protests must be received prior to 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 13, 2015.
Protests must include the landowners printed name, parcel number for each property affected by the proposed increase, the reason for the protest, and a signature.
Each parcel is entitled to one protest. If a parcel has more than one owner, all must sign the protest; otherwise the protest will be counted in accordance with the percentage of ownership of the person or persons signing the protest.
A copy of the presentation given by TID with proposed rate revisions is available here.
During the meeting, the TID Board of Directors passed a resolution scheduling the public hearing on the proposed revisions to water rates for Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. to consider the proposal to adjust irrigation rates and receive public comment.