No decision on PUD rate increases, yet | SierraSun.com

No decision on PUD rate increases, yet

Christine Stanley

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s wheels continue to spin in the effort to pass water and electricity rate increases and solidify a budget for 2006.At Wednesday’s district meeting, board members approved an ordinance to increase water and electric connection charges by 5 percent, a move that affects developers of new properties in Truckee.But the big issue – a proposed rate increase of 5 percent to both water and electric rates, plus an additional 2 percent increase on each utility to establish a reserve fund for future projects and expenses – was once again pushed to the wayside because of the recent storm and the absence of board member Pat Sutton.”The clock is ticking for us,” said board President Ron Hemig. “I have concerns about postponing [a decision on rate increases] and then being unable to come to an agreement on the budget when [Sutton] returns. It will cost the district a considerable sum of money.”District General Manager Peter Holzmeister also expressed his concern that without a finalized budget, capital projects will not start in a timely manner, and therefore cause added back-ups and delays. But opponents of the proposed rate increases seemed pleased by the pause, and some sharp words were exchanged in the boardroom regarding whether the utility district has done all it could to cut in-house costs.”There has really been no fruitful conversation on where you can cut back,” Geoff Stephens, general manager of the Glenshire/Devonshire Residents Association, said to the board. “You haven’t addressed the broadband issue and some of the other issues that have been brought up at other meetings. We are leaving it up to you to do something right for us.”In an effort to compromise with the desires of rate payers and some board members, there was a motion to approve a 3 percent increase on both utilities, plus the additional 2 percent on each for a reserve fund, but with a 2-2 vote, no final decision could be made.Rate increases will be put on the agenda again for the next district meeting on Feb. 1″It has been extremely interesting to take this much time to consider the budget,” Hemig said. “And there is no question that we are taking input.”