County : Jury Calls Water District Budgets 'Unrealistic'

The Orange County Water District's annual budgets "are completely unrealistic" and contain monetary reserves that are "too large," the county grand jury said in a report released Friday.

The grand jury recommended that the district restructure its budget, set a ceiling on reserve funds and underwrite capital projects by several means and not solely from accumulated reserves.

In February, the district's unreserved and general fund balances were about $50.9 million, an $18.187-million increase from June, 1982, the report noted.

The disparity between budget projections and the actual budget "varied widely, too widely," said Henry Klipstein, administration committee chairman of the grand jury.

"If they continue to underestimate their income and overestimate their expenses, their reserves keep growing," Klipstein said.

Those reserves are planned for capital improvements, but "should this generation pay for things that future generations will enjoy?" grand jury foreman Tom Kehoe asked.

The district is "in an exceptionally sound financial position," the grand jury concluded in its review of the budget.

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