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IID efficiency study released

September 18, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, with little discussion Monday, publicly released the draft of the recently completed efficiency study.

Though the board made few comments on the issue, several dozen people were in attendance and a few urged the board to implement the study to its fullest and as soon as possible.

Most of the public speakers praised district staff and the consultants for their efforts.

Lauren Grizzle, executive director of the Imperial County Farm Bureau and the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association, said millions of dollars stand to be saved if the board implements the study.

The two farm groups formed part of a process review team involved in the study.

Heber-area farmer Steve Scaroni urged the board to move quickly on the issue as the sooner it implements the study the sooner the district begins to save money.

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"We need to move this process along," he said.

John Hawk, IVVGA president and review team member, said he was impressed with the consultants, district staff, the process and the numbers. He urged the board to proceed with the study's recommendations and implementation.

Toni Holtz, the Farm Bureau representative on the review team, said the study is the result of good work and the process was frank and honest.

"Are you guys willing to take all of this to the bank and see what happens?" she said.

IID employee Richard Márquez said the findings in the efficiency report are the same as what district employees have been complaining about for years.

The draft report is in two parts. The first is a 168-page report, while the second is 198 pages of data.

In a related matter, the board delayed action on hiring someone to be the project coordinator and implement the study's recommendations.

Division 2 Director Bruce Kuhn said it will have to be someone with thick skin, as the person will be unpopular.

"I don't believe we have anyone who can carry it out," he said, adding that the person should work on the implementation 100 percent of the time and not as a collateral duty.

The first phase of the $830,118 study involved interviews with district staff and board members regarding those areas on which the study should focus: high-cost areas. Phase two was to develop opportunities for improved efficiency based on the focus areas and processes identified in phase one.

The study's second phase identified $21 million in annual savings through more fully implementing the district's new computer system, better management of its vehicle fleet and the timely completion of customers' power construction projects. Other areas where inefficiencies lie, according to the report, include customer services and billing and water order entry, which could end up with a separate computer system.

The board did not discuss the report's recommendations but set public workshops for Oct. 3 and 4 to discuss it.

In the meantime, the study's findings will be validated and a cost of water service study is under way.

In other action, the board:

· delayed approval of $212,500 for its share of environmental studies associated with the water quantification settlement until at least next week.

· refused to authorize the hiring of several new employees, including a new assistant for the general manager.

· presented service awards to employees.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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