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Our Opinion: Another look at 90/10

March 24, 2001

When the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors voted in the late 1990s to purchase a new software system known as SAP, the board voted to split the cost of the system 90/10. The power department would pay 90 percent, since the new software was purchased to help the power side adjust to issues such as power deregulation. The water department would pay 10 percent.

On Monday the IID directors are going to consider voting to amend the district budget for this fiscal year. An amendment pushed by IID Director Bruce Kuhn and supported by directors Lloyd Allen and Rudy Maldonado would alter the amount the water and power sides pay for computer software and hardware systems.

During the summer the board passed a budget based on information from staff in which instead of paying 90 percent for computer systems, the power side would pay 76 percent and water would pay 24 percent. IID staff members told the board a 76/24 split represents the use water and power get from the computer system.

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Kuhn has argued that the original intent of the board when the SAP was purchased was to have a continuing 90/10 split. He said the district would not have purchased the SAP if it were not going to remain a 90/10 split.

If Kuhn can provide proof, such as board minutes or even testimony from directors at the time that the intent of the 90/10 split was for it to stay in place for posterity, then the board should honor that agreement, even if it is not a fair split now.

Director Stella Mendoza, openly opposing Kuhn, is asking the board take another look at this issue. We agree with her that the power side should not have to subsidize the water department. We understand the concerns voiced by the farming community that the SAP system has not done all it was meant to do. We also understand their concerns over having the cost of water increase, particularly during rough times in agriculture.

Honoring agreements is one thing. Kowtowing to those who scream the loudest, is another.

If proof that the 90/10 agreement was meant to last indefinitely can be provided, that setup should continue. If that proof can't be provided, the split should be done according to costs, which is the way it should work in any public agency.

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