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State budget loans: Water districts feeling the bite

NID could see up to $900,000 revenue loss; PCWA looking at about $60,000, officials say
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Editor's note: Solving the $24 billion state budget deficit meant cuts to local programs. In this series, the Journal looks at how they may affect you. The Nevada Irrigation District is feeling the impact of the state budget on its own bottom line while Placer County Water Agency is taking a smaller hit. The irrigation district, which has treated and raw water customers in Placer County’s North Auburn and rural areas between Lincoln and Auburn, is anticipating a revenue loss of $800,000 to $900,000 in the coming year as part of a state of California plan to borrow property-tax revenues from local agencies. District General Manager Ron Nelson told the board of directors that the state is expected to borrow a total of $2 billion from local cities, counties and special districts to help ease its $24 billion shortfall. Nelson said Thursday that the district anticipated the state loan takeaway and is delaying some projects. “We hope the state’s problems don’t get any worse,” Nelson said. Under terms of state Proposition 1A, Nelson said the state would repay the borrowed money over three years. The interest rate on the borrowing has yet to be determined and the state cannot borrow any more money until the loan is repaid, Nelson said. Joseph Parker, Placer County Water Agency finance director, said that because the water provider has far less property-tax revenue, the impact would be very small. An early agency estimate is that about $60,000 will be loaned to the state, if 8 percent of property tax revenue is taken away. The agency’s property tax revenue doesn’t go to supplement water rates but goes into a separate agencywide budget that totals $700,000, Parker said. Unlike El Dorado and Nevada irrigation districts, the agency doesn’t depend on property tax revenues to supplement water rates, he said. Total operating budget for the agency, which supplies water to the city of Auburn and much of western Placer County, is $45.4 million. Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.