Brown County Water Improvement District board members tabled action on raising irrigation rates Tuesday after board member Dennis Graham said the proposed 10 percent increase — which would take the rate from $54 per acre foot to $59.40 per acre foot — is too low.
Graham suggested a rate of $81 per acre foot, noting that the district has been subsidizing irrigation water users. A consultant's study showed that the cost to the district of storing and delivering irrigation water is $184 per acre foot. Water district General Manager Dennis Spinks suggested tabling the issue and receiving public input "if you're going to make that big of an increase."
Last year, the water board set a goal of increasing irrigation rates by 10 percent a year for 10 years. "We've been off-target so long, we're trying to play catch-up," Graham said. "We have to catch up. We have to be more aggressive in my opinion."
Graham suggested that increasing the irrigation rate to $80 per acre foot "puts you on track to get ahead of the curve and make smaller increases later." If the board continues with the goal of 10 percent annual increases, Graham said, "you could be chasing this a long time. … We need to have a plan moving forward and 10 percent is not going to get us there."
In other business, the board:
• Agreed to purchase a security system that is already installed at Flat Rock Park for $4,000. Joe Berryman installed the system, which includes four cameras and a video monitor, when Berryman was leasing the public part of Flat Rock Park from the district. The water district has taken over the operation of the park. Berryman said he installed the system seven months ago and has put $6,400 into the system, but said he would sell it for $4,000. It would cost $4,500 to $5,500 to install the system brand new, board members were told.
With the district operating the public part of Flat Rock Park, the public now has access to the park at no charge, and the district is making improvements including installing a second boat ramp, Spinks told board members.
• Heard Spinks report on dredging by waterfront property owners since the board approved dredging. Three dredging projects have been completed, five are ongoing and three are pending, Spinks said.