DLWID Board member Jack Strayer provided us this summary and commentary on the DLWID 2010-2011 proposed budget.
The 2010-2011 budget for DLWID just came out. It is a tough 51 page read so I thought that you may appreciate learning about some of the high [or low] points.
The District recently formed a Communications Committee which has developed a Communications Plan currently under revision. Many aspects of this plan have already been implemented including new ideas developed such as the Listserv and a municipal water billing mailer. These items and more such as the website, sign kiosks, SOLV events, and the Lake Steward Award are all already funded through the General Fund. However, additional expenditures may be warranted from the Improvement Fund for non-reoccurring expenses.
Native Vegetation: The Devils Lake Water Improvement District has over the course of the last few years been developing methods for enhancing native vegetation on the lake bottom. The development of the Native Planting Guide is a direct result of this work. Planning, development and application to the state for planting native vegetation on the lake bottom has occurred, but was withdrawn by a decision of the Board until a more supportable plan in the eyes of the regulatory agencies could be made. In order for native plants to survive, fish ex-closures would have to be built to protect the plants from herbivorous fish. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has also required that these exclosures would also have to limit the access to the planting areas by piscivorous fish. This is being required to protect against native Coho Salmon being predated upon by ambush predators such as small mouth bass. Sophisticated monitoring of the ex-closures by electro-shocking the areas frequently would be required to ensure that the Coho/bass predation issue would be resolved indefinitely. Other concerns with the planting have also risen, which need to be addressed before the project could move forward. While some vegetation is largely recognized as a positive for the lake, concerns for managing the eventual spread of the plants lake wide have been aired. Currently the District is tasked with development of a Grass Carp strategy for vegetation management, and thus this planting program is largely on hold.
NEW STAFF POSITION:
The lesson from the last fiscal year is that bolstering of staff can propel the District in its objectives. Continuance of that momentum is a primary objective of this additional 10½ month long position. Specific projects to be tackled would include the completion of the septic tank system database, the continuance of the Save our Shoreline campaign and promoting Best Management Practices through education. Staff would also be in charge of grant writing, a potentially highly beneficial revenue creating means for the District. Staff would also assume the role of Water Quality Specialist in the last half of the summer, an intern position which would save $6,020 in the General Fund. Lastly, as time is available staff could also serve in other long-term goals such as facilitating the sewering initiative, enabling the District to move beyond merely scoping the project for participants and methods as provided in the recent goal statement, but on to development and implementation of a strategic plan.
For 2010-2011 a 3% cost of living raise has been budgeted. As taxes and retirement contributions are directly tied to this increase, a similar 3% increase can generally be expected here. Healthcare premiums have largely outpaced other inflation indices. Routinely increases in Personal Services have come as a result of these rising costs. Nationally, health insurance premiums have increased an average of 6.1% annually. As a result and with consultation from existing plans, a 6% increase has been budgeted for Health and Disability Insurance in the current year. To combat rising healthcare costs, health incentives are often invoked. Two years ago the board offered a paid health club membership to staff. Continuation of this program is expected in the upcoming year. In total then for Personal Services the District is budgeting $75,600, a 3.21% increase from last year.
These are just a few of the issues in the 2010-2011 budget but they are very important.
My position on these issues are:
COMMUNICATIONS: some suggestions have been adopted but communications are still weak – note the impact of the “budget Message” on page 7[#3].
AQUATIC VEGETATION: This is the only program to address in lake nutrients [besides solar bees]. People need to voice their views on this. We need to develope a vegetation plan that will meet all the lakes needs for navigation as well as fish and wildlife.
NEW STAFF POSITION: We need to delete some tasks before we add staff. The position is designed to develop a data base – what happens when the data base is finished. We will need staff to update the data base. While stated as temporary will evolve to permanent with the costs continuing forever.
MANAGERS COMPENSATION: With the economy in decline at the coast, the state taking furlow days, and other cutbacks – I believe that the cost of living is not appropriate this year. The managers salary is already very generous for the coastal economy and the duties involved.
The board the manger and I would appreciate you views and attendance that the monthly meeting Thursday 5/6/10 and the budget committee meeting 5/10/10.
Thanks for your help.