Thunderbird Water District eyes huge budget increase

Expenses are rising for TFID, which completed construction on a new water treatment system this year. Photo by Michelle Chance

A rural domestic water district will hold a public meeting regarding a hotly contested budget increase Thursday afternoon.

The Thunderbird Farms Improvement District Governing Board will meet July 13 at 4 p.m. inside the district office located at 10675 N. Brewer Road.

According to its meeting agenda, “the board will meet to discuss changes to the district’s 2017-18 budget in order to reduce the overall budget.”

The proposed maintenance and operation budget is a $434,597 increase to $844,305 – nearly doubling the amount from the previous year. The district’s board attributed the sharp rise in cost to its new, “state-of-the-art” water treatment facility, office and related operation costs.

The district and its customers are also paying back a consolidated USDA loan.

To cover budget expenses, the district met in June to vote through a $15 monthly fee increase and an 11.52 percent tax levy on customers’ limited property values.

Board members and district employees were met with sharp protest at the meeting, where many customers demanded the district reconsider its budget.

In emotional and often angry pleas to the district, water customers said many would be left homeless with the proposed tax increases because they would not be able to afford their water bills.

After nearly three hours of public comment and mutual debate between customers and district personnel, the board approved the fee increase, but failed to pass the tax levy.

It tabled the vote on its proposed budget, deciding later to meet Thursday to re-work figures in an attempt to lower the amount.

The board will not take a vote on the budget Thursday night, according to the district’s agenda.