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EID board votes to increase rates

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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El Dorado Irrigation District board members came under fire Monday during a public meeting about new rates. During the public address portion of the meeting, several rate payers took to the podium to vent their dissatisfaction with the board and its practices, calling the rate increases “bull s***” and the board “dysfunctional.” EID customer David Gelber questioned the exorbitant benefit package EID employees receive. “They receive medical, dental, retirement and don’t pay a dime in contributions,” he said. “Who gets that kind of benefits?” He concluded by saying EID needs to take care of those types of issues before increasing rates. According to EID officials, employees do pay a portion of their benefits. Gelber’s comments were met with applause from the audience of roughly 200 who attended the evening meeting at the Cameron Park Community Center. EID had proposed a rate increase of 35 percent in 2010, followed by increases of 15 percent in 2011 and 5 percent in each year from 2012 through 2014. The 2010 rate increase was eventually adjusted to 18 percent. EID General Manager Jim Ambercrombie addressed the crowd at the beginning of the meeting, outlining the reasoning behind the rate increases. He said, among other cuts, there has been a decrease in the work force of 30 percent since 1999. “We made the cuts without compromise to service,” he said. EID officials have explained the need for the increase in service costs as necessary and that rates will vary based on water usage, size and type of meter and the type of account one has. EID customer George Ricci voiced his opinion at Monday’s meeting. “What happened to charging for (use) of the actual commodity?” he said. “How can you charge me a $50 connection fee per billing period?” The board voted 4-1 in favor of the new rate structure. Alan Day was the only board member who voted against the plan.