RIVERSIDE, CA – During its regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, Western Municipal Water District’s (Western) Board unanimously approved the fiscal year (FY) 2020-21 and 2021-22 biennial budget. It was also announced that Western has postponed a pending rate adjustment and will extend the suspension of water service shutoffs due to non-payment, aligning with Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-42-20.
Each year, Western studies the need for rate adjustments in consideration of the rising costs of imported water and operating costs, preventative maintenance, and capital improvement projects. Western will be postponing the recommendation of any rate adjustments during the 2020-21 fiscal year.
“These past few months have been difficult for our community. Western is committed to minimizing economic impacts when and where possible,” said General Manager Craig Miller. “One way of doing this is to postpone rate adjustments.”
The biennial budget adoption includes the adoption of Western’s Operating Budget and Capital Improvement and Facilities Plan (CIFP) Budget for fiscal years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.
The objective of the CIFP process is to develop a forward-looking, comprehensive report that provides summary information about necessary capital project investments in the coming years. The CIFP highlights Western’s projects by describing each project’s purpose in meeting Western’s Strategic Priorities, the project’s necessity, costs and funding source, as well as the implementation timeline.
“The two-year budget is a result of extensive work by the Finance Committee and staff,” said Finance Director Kevin Mascaro. “This budget supports the priorities and policies of the Board, and Western’s Strategic Plan and Business Plan, all while ensuring fiscal transparency and the responsible investment of customer dollars.”
As with all of Western’s initiatives, it is staff’s responsibility and duty to make sure projects and processes are as efficient and effective as possible. Staff continuously take steps to reduce expenses and costs while addressing challenges such as drought, water supply demands, and economic conditions. Proactive planning allows Western to prudently manage resources and assets with accountability and transparency.
Western is committed to investing in and enhancing its water and wastewater (sewer) system. Increasing local water supplies, regional sustainability, and maintaining critical infrastructure are vital to ensuring that Western customers have a system they can rely on, now and into the future.
In an ongoing effort to support public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in consideration of many customers who continue to face financial uncertainty during this unprecedented time, Western will continue to bill for services, but will not penalize customers who are unable to pay on time.
“As California slowly reopens, we know it is vital to support the communities we serve and continue to provide the essential resource of clean, safe water,” said General Manager Craig Miller. “Our water and sewer systems remain unaffected, and you can count on our highly-skilled staff and operators to keep the water flowing to your taps and maintain your sewer services.”
If customers are unable to pay their bill, they are encouraged to contact Western’s Customer Service team at 951.571.7104 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org to make payment arrangements or discuss low-income assistance. Western will also be proactively reaching out to customers with higher bill balances to discuss payment assistance plans.
To learn more about Western’s budget process, visit wmwd.com/Budget. You can also learn about how Western is supporting customers during the Coronavirus pandemic at wmwd.com/Coronavirus.
Western Municipal Water District is one of the largest public agencies in Riverside County, providing water and wastewater (sewer) services to nearly a million people, both retail and wholesale customers who live, work and play within 527-square miles in one of California’s most populous regions. Learn more: wmwd.com.