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TID begins talking 2017 budget
No rate increases proposed for electricity or water
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Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors engaged in preliminary budget talks Sept. 13 by examining a proposal that would not include any rate increases for the second consecutive year.

"There's not a rate adjustment planned for this year, so we're basically talking about steady state in this particular fiscal year," said TID's assistant general manager of Financial Services Joe Malaski, who led directors in a workshop. "This is a good touchstone for everyone to see what we're seeing."

The proposed general manager's budget for 2017 includes $3 million for Don Pedro relicensing and $1.5 million for La Grange relicensing. Malaski said TID is expected to debt finance these two major expenditures, leaving $50,000 in the budget as a contingency plan.

Malaski said the proposed 2017 budget includes $13.5 million for personal computers and workstations, shop tools and test equipment, Customer Information Service replacement and network infrastructure.

"Network infrastructure is made up of several items," said Malaski. "The largest one of those items this year is $300,000 for enhanced security for our systems. There is a lot of emphasis in the industry as a whole to do more to protect the systems that we have and hopefully keep people out of them.

"It's not a matter of whether you're going to get hacked, it's when," continued Malaski.

The proposed Water Resources budget for 2017 includes a number of major financial projects as well, including $1 million for replacement vehicles, $10.7 million for the Palm Street Operations Complex and $1 million for Domestic Water. With capital financing taken out, the proposed budget is $3.7 million.

The proposed 2017 capital budget for Electrical Engineering & Operations includes expenditures attributed to routine expansion projects at $6.4 million, pole test and replacement at $500,000 and the beginning of 230kV pole painting and refurbishment at $1 million.

"Those are big projects--most of them are not things you can't do if you want to keep the system reliable and able to serve the customers," said Malaski. "There's a lot of dollars associated with that responsibility."

In the proposed Power Supply budget, Malaski noted $1.8 million for natural gas reserves, $500,000 for Tuolumne Wind Project, $235,000 for Almond Power Plant and Almond 2 Power Plant, and $820,000 for Walnut Energy Center. With capital financing taken out, the proposed budget remains at $1.9 million.

"This is arguably one of the smallest budget requests I've had in a long time," said Brian LaFollette, TID's assistant general manager of Power Supply.

At $7.3 million, the Don Pedro Project Upgrade End Of Life component makes up the majority of the greater Don Pedro budget proposal of $7.6 million for 2017.

"If you look at those large dollar figures, they are things that you really don't have a lot of flexibility in," said Malaski. "Some of these projects have already been flexed a few years."

TID is scheduled to have another workshop on Oct. 18. Directors are slated to make a final decision on the budget in early December.