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Posted on: July 18, 2023

Yuba Water saves Yuba County more than $400,000 with loan to pre-pay pension obligations and more

A street in Olivehurst that does not have curbs or sidewalks.

Yuba County will save about $400,000 over the next year thanks to a $9 million low-interest loan from Yuba Water Agency to help cover the county’s annual payment to the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

Yuba Water has helped the county finance its unfunded liability portion of its CalPERS payment each year since 2017, and every year, the county has repaid the short-term loan in full. Unfunded pension liability is the gap between future benefits that a pension fund expects to pay out and its current assets.

“This agreement is about saving the county money and giving them more flexibility in how they meet their pension obligations,” said Kurtis Crawford, Yuba Water’s director of finance. “The loan has no negative impact on our reserves since we’ll still be earning the same interest in repayments as we would from keeping the money in savings. It’s a win-win for all.”

The loan allows the county to make its annual payment to CalPERS in one lump sum at a discount rather than financing it through CalPERS at a higher percent interest rate.

Flood risk reduction and infrastructure improvements in Olivehurst and Linda

Yuba Water also increased its support for a county project to improve drainage in Olivehurst. The proposed project would cover the lengths of Western Avenue and Fleming Way, plus most portions of Second, Third, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Eleventh avenues. Funds from Yuba Water would only go toward elements related to reducing flood risk.

“Olivehurst is a historic Gold Rush community,” said Dan Peterson, Yuba County director of public works. “There was never a true, engineered drainage system installed. Ditches were put in to keep water off the roadway, but year after year, they have proven insufficient. This project will install not just the first-ever formal drainage system, but curbs, gutters and sidewalks as well, to help us be more resilient in the future.”

The funds will help Yuba County be more competitive for a grant through the California Transportation Commission’s Local Transportation Climate Adaptation Program, which requires applicants to show they can cover at least 20 percent of a project’s total cost.

The agency previously committed $7.5 million for the project. In recent months, the county has implemented changes that could increase the potential state grant funding to $38,540,000, bringing the total project cost to $48,477,325. To meet the increased cost share, Yuba Water committed an additional $2.4 million to Yuba County, for a total of just over $9.9 million.

The revised $9.9 million grant from Yuba Water would only be issued if the county successfully secures funding from the California Transportation Commission. Assuming funding is secured, construction could begin as soon as 2026.

Lastly, Yuba Water approved a grant of up to $487,000 to help the Linda County Water District relocate water and sewer assets to accommodate and match improvements underway as part of Yuba County’s Cedar Lane Safe Routes to School Project, which is adding new sidewalks, bike lanes and storm drains in West Linda. That project is moving forward thanks to a $21 million grant to Yuba County from the California Transportation Commission and supported by a $5.4 million cost share grant from Yuba Water.

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