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Tulelake Irrigation District landowners voted to allow rate increase

by Jacqui Krizo, Klamath Courier Reporter, 1/11/06

TULELAKE – Tulelake Irrigation District rate-hike election last Friday resulted in a "yes" decision to allow TID to increase O&M operation and maintenance fees for landowners.

30 people attended the third and final meeting held at the Tulelake fairgrounds last Friday. District Manager Earl Danosky and board members explained the district’s fees and expenses and reasons that the TID board needs the flexibility to adjust O&M rates to cover costs.

The Irrigation District sent certified letters to all of the district’s 360 landowners to inform them of their options regarding the election. Each acre of land carries 114 votes. There were 2,452,362.3 "yes" votes and 1,280,932.5 "no" votes.

TID was faced with a dilemma last fall because they were operating in the red. California’s Proposition 218 requires landowner approval prior to any increase of O&M assessments. The election cost more than $70,000. It was mandatory that the district hire engineers to do a report regarding the district O&M services and rates..

MBK Engineer’s Report assessed special benefits provided by TID which include "delivery of water, flood control and drainage, and protection of water rights and other matters. The amounts of assessment must be proportional to the special benefit conferred."

Besides providing irrigation water to landowners within the district, many expenses have evolved in recent years. There is a possibility of a maximum power rate increase of 2600 percent in 2006. The water adjudication process costs $200,000 per year. Tens of thousands of dollars are being spent annually on regulatory issues, including the takings case, legal representation in ESA issues, and other litigation defending the irrigators’ rights to their deeded, stored irrigation water.

The public is welcomed to attend TID board meetings every 2nd Monday of each month at 8 p.m. to give input or ask questions regarding their services.

Since the irrigation districts have not been informed of next year’s power rate, farm loans and crop plans are on hold. Alternate energy sources were discussed.

The district must pump water out of the basin into Lower Klamath Refuge so Tulelake basin does not turn into Tule Lake again. Since the irrigators are held responsible for paying the expenses for pumping water for Fish and Wildlife Service into refuges, the landowners discussed ways to reroute and dispose of these return flows to avoid the costly service.

Had the district voted "no", the alternative to a rate hike would have been purchasing and installing water meters, or fees based on crop types, which would have been more expensive for the landowners than O&M increases.

Because of the "yes" vote for rate flexibility, the district will be able to continue serving the farm community with the lesser expense.




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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