Our Opinion: An unfair charge

May 13, 2001

For the Imperial Irrigation District to ask the Imperial Unified School District and the city of Imperial to pay double what they were initially asked to pay for undergrounding the Dahlia Canal is bad business practice and sends the wrong message.

Yes, the undergrounding of the canal was a benefit to the school district and the city of Imperial, but each agency already had agreed to pay a share of the cost and budgeted for the agreed-upon amount. Neither the school district nor the city has a budget the size of IID's and neither agency can afford to pay more for the undergrounding.

IID also is responsible because its cost estimates for the project were drastically wrong. Others should not have to pay for IID's mistakes.

It may be a hard pill for IID to swallow, but it should not be looking elsewhere for help in covering the cost of this project. We can only hope IID will show some sense of fairness and responsibility.


There must be some way for IID to cover such a cost without asking the city and schools for more, even if it means being creative with some funds. In two weeks the IID board is scheduled to say whether it has the money to cover the additional costs.

If the board announces it does not have the money, it would be a public relations nightmare for IID. What IID would be doing is taking money from the hands of the school district and the city, and the ugly appearance of such a move will be difficult for IID to overcome quickly.

The undergrounding of the Dhalia was hailed as a partnership between IID, the county, the city of Imperial and the Imperial school district. In this partnership there was clearly a lead agency and that was IID. Now is time for IID to prove itself a leader in the community by not forcing the city and school district to pay twice what it projected.

We have a feeling if the board does seek payment, it is going to find itself in a fight. We do not think school and city officials are simply going to accept any action that would call on each to pay so much more toward the project.

We are pleased the Dahlia Canal was covered and IID deserves credit for making that happen and possibly saving lives in the long run. It does make it safer for students who walk by the canal on their way to and from school and for other city residents.

Now IID has to show even more leadership and send a message to the people of the Valley that it will not pass this buck.

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