Our editorial board having spent nearly an hour each with three candidates running for the El Dorado Irrigation District board, we have a different take on them than many of the establishment groups supporting one candidate or another.
For Division 4, it was crystal clear to us that Dr. Dale Coco is an outstanding candidate for that seat. His opponent, a lawyer, declined to meet with us.
For Division 2, we were able to meet with both candidates. In meeting and questioning Greg Prada we found him to be relaxed, at ease and more even-tempered than some of his writings would lead one to believe.
We hope he maintains that eventemperedness if he should win the election to the EID board. There is no question that he has a solid business background and he gave us a more detailed summary of the health care companies of which he has been CEO.
Of the two candidates for Division 2 our endorsement goes to Greg Prada. We see him as a strong advocate for the ratepayers. Now it is time for EID to scale back the multi-year multi-digit rate hikes. Home construction is picking up and EID will be building up a capital improvement fund with those hookup fees. They will also help maintain its debt ratios without resorting to big rate increases. We see Prada as someone who will work to keep those rate hikes in check.
“You don’t run out of money in the end. You run out of money along the way,” Prada told the Mountain Democrat.
He also told us he is “not pro-growth” nor is he “no-growth.” That is the appropriate stance for someone seeking to be a policy maker for a water district. Development decisions are made by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and the county planning division. EID’s job is to make sure there is water available to meet the needs of the county’s General Plan. The policy issue for EID is to make it affordable.
We remain wary about his attitude about agricultural rates. This is an irrigation district and that belt of farms and wineries east of Placerville is preserving the rural character of this county. We will be watching him on this issue.
While we appreciate Prada’s pursuit of affordable water and sewer rates, we differ with him on hookup fees. He would like to see them higher than what EID just approved. Originally EID had proposed $41,000 for a water and sewer hookup in El Dorado Hills and nearly $36,000 in the rest of the district. By using replacement cost instead of depreciation, the district staff reduced the combined hookup fee for water and sewer to $30,000 and used one rate for all the district. Of, course this allows developers to build homes with a slightly lower cost. Anyone has to be naive not to think that all these impact fees paid to various government agencies doesn’t raise the cost of a new home. And it sure discourages the individual who buys a piece of land in the county and wants to build a house on it for his family.
He criticized the board for approving the five-year capital improvement plan and said he would “push back on debt, push back on these projects.” We agree that the CIP should be more carefully parsed by the board and that Prada would be a leader on this. Should he be elected, we also will be watching him to be sure he is not putting reliable delivery of water at risk.
“I would not say yes to everything, but I would not say no to everything,” Prada told us. That is a reasoned approach. We believe Greg Prada will be an advocate for the ratepayers. For that we endorse his candidacy for Division 2. He represents no constituency other than the ratepayers.