Workshop on IID efficiency study draws full house

October 05, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Change is inevitable, the community must work together, and if given a chance and the proper tools employees of the Imperial Irrigation District can help the utility become more efficient were the messages coming out of the IID's second and final workshop to discuss the recently completed efficiency study.

Thursday's workshop included a presentation of the findings and recommendations in the $875,118 study, whose implementation could lead to yearly savings of $31.6 million, with a one-time investment of about $10 million. Overall, the report says the net present value of the savings is estimated at $217 million.

The presentation was made by the study's project manager, Chris Conpeggie, who detailed the savings that can be found in such areas as governance, information technology, the vehicle fleet, cost allocation, staffing, water order fulfillment, customer service projects and customer service and billing.

Potential savings include:

l $5.78 million annually through better use of the district's SAP computer system, with a one-time investment of $3.73 million. Overall, IID could save $37.76 million.


l $2.12 million annually through the reduction of 263 vehicles, with a one-time investment of $40,000. Overall, IID could save $15.11 million.

l $1 million annually by assigning zanjeros to work in maintenance when water deliveries are slow. With a one-time investment of $620,000, IID could save $6.56 million.

l $2.17 million annually by closing division offices and through outsourcing certain customer and billing services. With a one-time investment of $250,000 IID could overall save $15.27 million.

l $10.4 million annually by optimizing customer service projects system. With a one-time investment of $800,000, overall IID could save $73.55 million.

l $10.1 million through the reduction of employees. With a one-time investment of $3.35 million, IID could save as much as $69 million.

The issue of employee reductions led to there being a full house at the workshop. Numerous employees spoke of the work force's loyalty, dedication and competence. All were opposed to any sort of reductions.

Those associated with the farming community urged the board to not politicize the efficiency study, work as a team and implement those recommendations that can be implemented.

Brawley-area farmer Michael Cox thanked the IID Board of Directors for undertaking the study and urged it to not rush into its implementation.

"I really want to encourage you to look at this in-depth," he said.

Cox said the farming community has been hurt by the current economy and that it is not business as usual.

Westmorland-area farmer Jim Walker said the study and report are valid, that its purpose is not to force any one out of a job and that he hopes it will be implemented. He urged district employees to look at the study overall and not just at the jobs issue.

IID employee Lupe Ibarra argued against closing division offices and said people like to pay their bills that way.

"The key word here is human contact," she said.

Ibarra said any reduction in staff will result in future hires as the Valley continues to grow.

Heidi Kuhn, a self-described large user of electricity and water, said the IID has for too long had faulty governance and structures

"It's very clear the bottom-line message is $31 million a year," she said, reminding the board of its fiduciary duties and that job reductions through attrition — the apparent choice of the board — will take too long and not achieve any savings. "Watering it down or ignoring it is not an option at this point."

Political activist Roberto Rubio said although he is an employee advocate, "it's got to be efficient, it's got to be efficient."

IID employee Jose Pavila said he spoke for the silent majority. He said he opposes outsourcing because district employees are part of the community and the jobs are needed to support families.

"If we out-source, what happens to our kids?" he said.

The IID board members also commented on the report. Each said there are some recommendations in the study that can be implemented.

The board has scheduled a discussion of how and what to implement in the study for next week's board meeting.

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

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