The Stanislaus Taxpayers Association is seeking financial information related to the power rate hike proposed by the Modesto Irrigation District.
The group is asking the MID for information on total salaries and benefits this year; expected expenses over the next five years; and projections for growth in electric- ity demand over five years.
The request, made by e-mail under the California Public Records Act, came a day after a public hearing on the proposed 11 percent rate increase. The MID board plans to consider it again Jan. 26.
"One of the things we always question is where the money is spent," association President Dave Thomas said.
District spokeswoman Kate Hora said the information will be made available.
"We always comply with public records requests," she said.
At Tuesday's hearing, Thomas said the public needed more time to comment on the proposal because it came out just a few days earlier. He also called for "a very serious addressing of expenses."
Thomas said the association also wants to make sure the demand projections are accurate. He recalled how the city of Modesto approved a water rate increase in 2005 after relying on faulty demand data.
Thomas said the group would accept the rate increase if the MID can show it is needed.
Much of Tuesday's meeting dealt with the argument by MID financial experts about the importance of boosting reserves via rate increases.
They stand at about $125 million, but the experts said the reserves should be increased to $200 million so the MID can keep paying low interest rates on the bonds it issues for capital projects.
The Stanislaus Taxpayers Association is an advocacy group that has fought two failed efforts to pass a countywide road tax in recent years. It forced Modesto to scale down sewer and water rates in 1999 when it used a lawsuit to argue that the city was misusing money it collected through the charges.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2385.