Ohlig-Hall and the rest of the water district's board are
scheduled to begin discussions on next year's budget tonight. Budget
talks will likely continue through June.
The Mesa Consolidated Water District buys water supplies from the
Orange County Water District, the agency in charge of the county's
groundwater. In April, that agency raised the price they charge the
Mesa Consolidated Water District and other agencies.
The Orange County Water District raised wholesale prices 19%,
hiking the cost for local water suppliers to $205 per acre-foot of
water. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, which water officials say is
the amount of water used by one to two households per year.
The 2004 California budget claimed property tax funds that had
gone to local governments in the past. Orange County Water District
spokesman Ron Wildermuth reiterated his agency's position that rate
hikes were needed to make up for $7.5 million lost to Sacramento.
"We had to pass it through because we had no other choice,"
Wildermuth said. Population growth, aging infrastructure and
tightened water quality rules also prop prices up, he said.
Mesa Consolidated's proposed budget for next year is a 5% increase
over their last budget. Vikki Beatley, the district's financial
services manager, said. She and water district administrative
services manager Coleen Monteleone said staffers proposed to leave
two district jobs vacant in an effort to keep the budget under
Mesa Consolidated raised water rates last June. Current drinking
water rates for households using a three-quarter-inch meter are $9
per month and $1.77 per 748 gallons.