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IID board approves wage and benefit agreement with employee groups

June 26, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors unanimously approved a one-year $1.9 million wage and benefit agreement with its employee groups.

The changes include:

· a 3 percent lump sum payment of each employee's yearly pay expected on the second paycheck in July. Wages would not be increased.

· an increase in shift premium.

· a doubling of the service award to $20 per year of service.

· an increase in tuition reimbursement per semester from $350 to $500.

· an allowance for footwear.

· expanded dental coverage to be paid by the employee.

In other business, the board approved a $1 million grant to Imperial Bioresources LLC for continued research and development into a renewable biomass cogeneration plant using sugar cane or sugar beets as the fuel source. The money was awarded in such a manner that the company is required to meet certain milestones.


Brawley-area farmer Larry Fleming briefed the board on the project. He said the cane would be used to make sugar at the local Holly Sugar refinery and the waste, both from the refining process and the field, would be burned to generate as much as 30 megawatts of electricity. He said the power would be made available to the IID.

Board President Stella Mendoza asked Fleming how much water it takes to irrigate an acre of sugar cane. Fleming said from 5.5 acre-feet to 8 acre-feet, using drip irrigation.

Jesse Herrera, president of the Sugar Workers Union Local 174, said his membership supports the effort because it will retain the jobs at Holly and create new ones. He said there are about 290 employees, of which 100 are full-time.

Fleming said if the project comes to fruition he expects the 200 part-time employees at the refinery would become full-time.

IID awarded $250,000 to the project in November 2001. The money will come from the district's public benefit charge program.

The board also:

· approved filling the vacant assistant general manager's position. The position has been vacant since Jesse Silva was promoted to general manager. Salary for the assistant general manager is $14,753 to $18,829 monthly, including benefits.

· awarded $3,000 in college scholarships to the children of IID employees.

· extended a professional service agreement with Carmen McPhetridge to $211,860 from $87,700. The agreement is to provide power department project support.

· was urged to continue its efforts to reach an agreement with a Corona-based dairyman on power delivery and rates to a 1,000-acre dairy planned for the west side of the Valley. Division 2 Director Bruce Kuhn said talks are ongoing.

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

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