TCID directors look at financial health
November 14, 2013
A safety net, it's what directors Lester de Braga, Eric Olson and Wade Workman proposed to the board during the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District's monthly meeting last week.
A nest egg of sort would be used to fund unforeseen issues that arise surrounding maintenance of the Truckee Canal and structures throughout the system.
De Braga, Olson and Workman — members of the finance committee — presented their ideas to the board as an alternative to scrambling to secure bonds or loans in times of need. The trio referenced the 2008 Fernley breach and other needs such as maintaining the hydroelectric plant at Lahontan Reservoir.
De Braga said the target goal is $6 million in funds in an account specifically earmarked for unforeseen situations. Olson, meanwhile, said if the district had a generous reserve, rehabilitation on the canal after the breach would have began much earlier.
Instead, it took the district months to secure a loan and construction was further delayed because the money could not be gathered within TCID's projected timeline.
"It's just a safeguard for operation and maintenance purposes," de Braga said.
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TCID President Ernie Schank said the district must be careful with the funds as question from the public and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will surface as to the nature of the money.
One area of discussion surrounding the proposal was the hydroelectric operations at the Old Lahontan plant. Mark Solinski, TCID's hydro foreman, said the new plant is up to code, but the old plant and 26-foot Drop must be updated within the next year. In addition, he said the upgrades will allow for better hydro electrical generation, although the board said they will petition the BOR to move the first source of water flows through the new plant.
Despite the maintenance issues, Olson praised Solinski and scheduler Kelly Herwick have helped create more efficient operations at the dam and through scheduling.
Water users, for the most part, are now cognizant water deliveries take three to four days, and those orders are submitted in a timely manner.
Schank said a majority of TCID's funds are generated through hydroelectric power, and it would make sense if some of those funds were earmarked, should the board adopt the committee's proposal.
"I think we take a portion of the hydro funds for hydro expense," Schank added. "I think that makes sense to have earmarked."
Olson said the district should also look at possibly raising insurance premiums to assist in creating more liquidity.
The proposal, Olson added, is a way to create a healthy business model.
"It's a breathing apparatus," he said. "It (the funds) will go up and down."