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Mendoza takes cost concerns to public

March 19, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Imperial Irrigation District Director Stella Mendoza is taking her fight over how the district divides its $9 million in information technology costs to the public.

Mendoza said this morning she and some supporters are circulating a petition throughout the Imperial Valley.

That petition, which calls for IID to split the cost of information technology 76/24 between the power and water departments, will be presented to the district Board of Directors during its meeting March 26.

That division in costs would have the power department pay 76 percent for computer software and hardware systems and the water department pay 24 percent.

Mendoza's move to circulate petitions comes a week after the board approved a 90/10 split in costs in which the power side will pay 90 percent.


"It's not fair to the rate-payers," Mendoza said, adding to have the power side pay 90 percent would bring a $1.2 million cut in the power department.

Mendoza and board President Andy Horne cast the votes against the 90/10 split. Directors Bruce Kuhn, Lloyd

Allen and Rudy Maldonado voted for the 90/10 split.

Kuhn said that split not only is fair but was approved by the board in the mid-1990s when it was considering adding the SAP software system.

He said the board had to approve the 90/10 split or the district would not have gotten the SAP system, which was deemed necessary for the power department in light of pending power deregulation.

"I cannot and will not go against the original intent," Kuhn said, adding of Mendoza's move to seek petitions, "She may sway a third vote, but she will not get mine."

In this year's district budget adopted in December the board approved a 76/24 split for information technology.

The board took that action based on staff reports that the 76/24 split more accurately represented the information technology used by the departments.

Kuhn approved the budget with the 76/24 split, but the board agreed to revisit budgetary issues such as the information technology cost split.

Kuhn opted to rekindle the issue recently, stating concern that the board had gone against the intent of the vote when the SAP system was purchased.

He gained the votes needed to have the split returned to 90/10. That was finalized during the board's last meeting, in La Quinta.

Mendoza vowed to not let the issue die. She said her concern is the power department and its customers are being asked to pay a portion of the information technology used by the water department.

Mendoza said along with the petitions, she is asking the public attend the meeting to state how they want the district to divide the costs.

Kuhn said Mendoza's action could prove divisive.

"I just don't think it is advantageous to the district to solve this in a bloodbath," Kuhn said, adding, "If she wants to divide the Valley, this is a step toward doing that."

He added, "This is going to drive a wedge between power and water users."

Mendoza responded, "It's important that both the water customers and rate-payers get equal representation on the board and both departments are treated fairly."

She added, "The 90/10 split places an unfair burden on the rate-payers."

Mendoza said if the split remains 90/10 power customers could either see cuts in service or rate increases.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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