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Capital projects , fewer positions top TIDs proposed budget
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The Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors on Tuesday continued work to approve a 2011 budget which calls for a net of six fewer employees , which is three more than proposed in a Sept. 28 budget workshop.

The budget would cut 14 positions, none of which are currently filled, while adding eight new posts in the Power Supply Administration. The new employees would be tasked with manning TID’s planned expansion of the Almond Power Plant and coordinating TID’s power supply schedule.

The budget projects $334 million in revenue, the same as a year ago despite an anticipated $9 million decline in retail electric revenues and a $6 million decline in wholesale wind revenue, the latter correcting an overenthusiastic projection from last year. Those losses and others are projected to be balanced out by an $11 million increase in wholesale electric revenues, $2 million in Renewable Energy Credit sales, and a $4.5 million federal grant for the District’s fuel cell.

Following a $238 million expenditure on power supply costs, $57 million for operations and maintenance, $12 million for revenue financed capital projects, and $21 million for debt service, the budget projection sees TID adding $8 million to its reserves. Power supply costs are estimated to rise $3 million from a year ago, while O&M expenses will increase by $1.5 million.

The majority of that O&M increase comes from a move to increase the amount budgeted for overtime and double-time to actual cost levels, up nearly $700,000. The overtime budget has not been adjusted since 2003, so departments have been forced to employ creative budgeting to pay for necessary overtime to repair downed lines and work 12-hour power plant shifts.

The budget also calls for $175 million in capital projects, the majority of which would go toward the Almond Power Plant expansion and the construction of a proposed Hughson-Grayson high voltage transmission line. Directors on Tuesday opted to delay the majority of expenditures on one capital project – a $1.1 million plan to pump water from Don Pedro Reservoir into a storage basin, so as to leverage the water for hydroelectric generation later in the year – until the economy recovers.

Directors received good news on the current year’s budget on Tuesday, in that many departments are spending far less than their allotted funds.

According to TID Chief Financial Officer and Assistant General Manager of Financial Services Joe Malaski, TID has known since March that sales would be down, and asked departments at that time to do what they could to reduce costs. In one notable example, the Resource Management, Planning and Rates Administration has spent just $55,000 of an allotted $665,000 legal budget, and just $24,000 of a $165,000 consulting budget.

“It means you did a good job,” Director Joe Alamo said.

The Directors will continue to discuss the budget on Nov. 9 and Nov. 23, and are scheduled to adopt a final budget on Dec. 7.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.