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CCWD Prepares To Trim $16 Million Budget

Calaveras County Water District officials are converting to a new method of balancing the budget as they look to trim more than $800,000 from the proposed 2003-04 money package.

The draft package prepared by Finance Director Rudy Hernandez and other district staff, shows projected revenues of a little more than $15.2 million and estimated expenditures of approximately $16.08 million resulting in an anticipated deficit of $873,214.

Alan Turner, CCWD´s assistant general manager, emphasized that figure includes funding additional programs and positions requested by staff and directors, and the actual amount of over expenditure is about half that.

“That´s, just in essence, a ballpark figure that includes all the requests,” Turner said.

More importantly, Turner said, is that this budget reflects a change in the district´s method of balancing the annual package. Previously, deficits in the district´s operating budget, which is covered by monthly rates, might have been balanced by using CCWD´s property tax revenue, interest on other funds, or transferring the money from reserves, Turner said.

Now, though, district officials want to pay all operating costs from operating funds. To do that, district officials are going to track staff time in more detail. Hours spent working on capital improvement program projects, such as constructing or expanding water and sewer plants, will be charged directly to those projects, which are funded by one-time capacity fees or special funds.

This is not a new idea in the industry, Turner said, and was practiced at CCWD until about eight years ago when then directors and officials switched to other methods of calculating costs and revenues.

Final budget approval is on the agenda for a special meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, but at a budget workshop Friday morning, some directors expressed doubt it could be ready by then.

Director Leroy Fonceca, who represents the West Point area, said staff had answered a lot of questions in the most recent proposals, but there were still several unanswered concerns.

“I cannot see this thing getting done in a week or two,” Fonceca said.

The budget process for this fiscal year was delayed because of turnover in CCWD´s financial department.

In July the district performed a “roll-over” budget, basically re-adopting the 2002-03 package until new staff could be hired and develop a plan for the 2003-04 fiscal year.

Calaveras Enterprise story byCraig Koscho. For more Calaveras news, click:calaverasenterprise.com