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OID Approves Funds To City, Fire
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The Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors approved over $146,000 to fund requests from the City of Oakdale’s Parks and Recreation department and the Fire department in a 3-2 vote at the May 18 regular meeting. Directors Herman Doornenbal and Al Bairos were the dissenting votes.

The matter had come before the board at the April 6 meeting, but was tabled and referred to the board’s finance committee for further evaluation, as the item was not budgeted by OID for 2010. Staff information showed that the funds could be found in areas of unfilled staff positions and employee health care costs that haven’t been spent. Last year, the district gave the same entities, including the rural fire district, over $156,000.

The city plans to use the funds for water safety, conservation, and public swim programs. The fire department’s use of the funds will go toward training and materials for confined space, water rescue, and hazardous materials.

The board members had varying comments, director Jack Alpers questioned whether OID needed to keep the city and fire department running forever. Director Steve Webb agreed with Alpers and said he hopes the city can get in better financial shape soon because the district couldn’t keep doing it.

Director Frank Clark stated he thought the board was missing the point and that he views the relationship with the city as a partnership. He added that both OID and the city benefit, and he doesn’t see the money as “helping” the city. He later added that OID has the money and can move funds around.

Director Doornenbal disagreed with Clark, stating he believed there was some benefit but that there needed to be an end in sight. He said that it’s important that the city and fire department realize, in his opinion, that the financial problems of the state will likely get worse and that they have to come up with their own solutions to fill in the gaps. He added that OID “isn’t a cash cow,” it’s an irrigation district and that he doesn’t like the idea of the district being looked to as an agency to keep the city running.

In other business, the board unanimously approved funding a new water rescue boat, motor, and trailer for the Oakdale rural fire district for nearly $31,500. Director Webb stated that the current boat is unusable, Alpers said that the water being released by the Bureau of Reclamation this year will make the Stanislaus River run at approximately 1,000 CFS and that due to his many years of white water rafting experience, he said he’s found that the Stanislaus is dangerous at 600 CFS. He said there will be greater need for water rescues and the boat was important. Doornenbal directed comments at Alpers that the district isn’t responsible for accidents that people have on the river.

Also in other business, the board also unanimously approved a sponsor request from the Oakdale Educational Foundation for $5,000.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to adopt the necessary environmental studies and paperwork steps (CEQA) for a one-year water transfer to the San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority, i.e. Westside farmers. The CEQA documents needed to supply water for more than one year would allow the district to transfer water through the Delta, if the district chooses. Director Bairos likened it to enhancing OID’s marketing ability through the Delta.

The board also tabled a brewing issue with the city in regards to OID pipelines that run under the streets of the city that OID no longer uses, but the city uses for storm drainage. The board’s water committee and city officials plan to meet and discuss options regarding costs, abandoning pipelines, and so on.

The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 1 at the OID boardroom, 1205 East F.