Modesto Irrigation District board to hear staff report

11/11/2013 6:36 PM

11/11/2013 8:41 PM

The Modesto Irrigation District has saved about $40 million by not filling vacant jobs over the past five years.

A report going before the MID board this morning says the utility’s staffing, at 411 people, remains down about 10 percent, and as much as 40 percent of its workforce will be eligible to retire in the next five years.

Officials were slow to fill vacancies during the recession. They ramped up recruiting this year but have complained about the difficulty of attracting and retaining employees, especially those with specialized skills.

Vacancies peaked at 15 percent in 2010, when the board had budgeted salaries for 478 people but paid only 407. The district saved an average of $8.2 million per year from 2009 to 2012, the report says.

Whether customers have suffered is “difficult to quantify,” concludes the report, which was requested recently by an outgoing board member.

Today’s board meeting will be the last for Tom Van Groningen, Paul Warda and Glen Wild, who will leave after 20, 19 and four years of service, respectively. Paul Campbell, Jake Wenger and John Mensinger, respectively, were elected last week to succeed them and will be seated in a Dec. 6 ceremony; their first board meeting will be Dec. 17.

Also on today’s agenda is a report on the MID’s efforts to comply with state law requiring that more energy come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

The district delivers water to 3,100 growers farming some 58,000 acres, and provides Modesto water customers with about half their supply. MID also provides electricity to 113,000 customers.

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