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Brown County Water District Approves 10 Percent Increase in Irrigation Water Rates

The Brown County Water Improvement District #1 (BCWID) approved a 10% increase in agricultural irrigation water rates for 2013 on Tuesday night in a split vote of the board. In a 3-to-1 vote, the BCWID board of directors approved sticking with a plan to raise irrigation rates 10% per year over the next 10 years.

The current rate is $59 per acre foot which was set this time last year.

“With the schedule that was set up in 2010, that rate would go up 10% from $59 which would make it $65 per acre foot,” said BCWID General Manager Dennis Spinks.

Although the cost of irrigation water is going up, the district is losing money on every acre foot of water sold to irrigators at the new price.

“In 2010 we did a rate study which showed the actual cost of storage and delivery of irrigation water was $181 per acre foot,” Spinks said.  “The calculation of last year, actual cost of storage and delivery of irrigation water was down to $134 per acre foot so we are not anywhere close to that number yet, but it is getting closer as we increase the rate 10% each year.”

In 2010, the board doubled the agricultural irrigation rate and said that they planned to raise the rate 10% each year.

BCWID board member Dennis Graham said that he would like to see a larger increase this year so the district would lose less money.

“In my opinion, I don’t think the 10% is enough. I think we need one more step to get us a little closer where we need to be,” Graham said. “I am thinking we need a 25-30% increase is my recommendation.”

Other board members said that they wanted to stick with their original promise of 10% per year.

“I think my concern is everybody’s expecting the 10% jump,” said board president Mark Campbell. “We told them that a couple of years ago, and I think it’s a lot for them to take on the 10% so that would be my comments.”

In a split vote, the board approved the 10% increase with Graham voting against it and director Ted Simpson abstaining.

The board also increased 2” water connection rates by 10% from $358 per year to $394 for full time connections and from $150 to $165 year on part time or “dry” connections. These connections are subject to current water restrictions.

The structure of waterfront service contracts was also updated by the board on Tuesday. Currently the board has a 4 step pricing system that was approved last year, but after feedback from property owners, the board approved a new 2-teir system. With the new approval, waterfront property owners with 0 to 1 acre of property will pay $125 per year and owners of 1 acre of property or more will pay $250. Those property owners are still subject to current water restrictions.

Other fees that were approved are as follows which were not changed from last year:

-Sail Boat Costs - $33/ year depending on size. These boats are on the water year-round.

-Commercial boat docks - $28 per stall

-Private boat docks 18 cents per square foot (covered area of dock). Second floors are charged at 9 cents per square foot.

-Lease rates on McCartney Island at $350/ year and Goat Island at $235/ year.

-Late charges will now be assessed for all late payments to the district.

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