AAA-Rated Moulton Niguel Approves On-Time, Balanced Budget

Moulton Niguel Water District, which holds a coveted AAA credit rating from two independent credit ratings agencies, has approved an on-time, balanced budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

At its June Board meeting, the Moulton Niguel Board of Directors unanimously approved the 2019-20 Operating and Capital Improvement Program Budget that reinvests more than $71.7 million into capital projects that will ensure ongoing access to reliable water services.

“Moulton Niguel’s balanced budget reinvests ratepayer dollars into maintaining a safe and reliable water infrastructure system,” said Board President Brian S. Probolsky. “This balanced budget allows us to maintain low rates and prepare for the future with a responsible reserve fund.”

To ensure an efficient and well-maintained system, nearly half of the $149.1 million budget goes directly toward capital projects, including reservoir rehabilitation, replacing water pumps, and installing new pipelines.

“This balanced budget shows our steadfast commitment to prudent financial planning,” said Duane D. Cave, First Vice President of the Moulton Niguel Board of Directors. “We’re proud to maintain the lowest average bill in South Orange County.”

10-Year Water Infrastructure Plan Also Approved

Over the coming fiscal year, Moulton Niguel will invest $71.7 million toward its proactive ten-year, $533 million plan to replace and rehabilitate necessary infrastructure to ensure continued delivery of high-quality water service for its customers in Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, Dana Point, and San Juan Capistrano.

The District maintains an extensive water infrastructure system that includes more than 1,300 miles of water, wastewater and recycled water pipelines, approximately 20,000 valves, 53 pump and lift stations, 39 reservoirs, and four treatment plants.

“As part of our ten-year infrastructure plan, our agency will invest more than a half-billion dollars into the replacement and rehabilitation of our water infrastructure,” said Donald R. Froelich, the Board’s Second Vice President.

Both Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings, two of the world’s leading independent ratings agencies, have each assigned Moulton Niguel the highest possible credit rating of AAA, in part, due to the District’s history of balanced budgets and wise capital improvement planning.

“This year’s balanced budget will help us maintain our AAA credit rating, which saves our ratepayers millions of dollars in lower interest rates and borrowing costs,” explains Moulton Niguel Director Kelly A. Jennings.

Transparent Budget Incorporates Public Comments, Customer Priorities 

This year’s budget is the product of more than a half-dozen budget workshops that incorporated public comments and customer input. In 2017, the District established its Transparency, Access & Participation Initiative to engage customers directly in the District’s decision-making.

“Moulton Niguel has a track record of budget transparency and customer engagement,” said Director Richard S. Fiore. “We listen to our customers about their priorities.”

By listening to its customers, Moulton Niguel has received recognition from the nation’s leading non-profit association for public finance officers. In March, the Government Finance Officers Association awarded the District with its 2019 Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The award honors government agencies that adhere to the highest principles of government budgeting and meet nationally-recognized guidelines for public transparency of budget materials.

Moulton Niguel Budget: Federal Grants, Efficient Operations

Moulton Niguel’s balanced budget includes support from state and federal grant programs. Last fall, the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation awarded Moulton Niguel $300,000 in federal matching funds for its “Advanced Metering Infrastructure” program, which will help the District and customers detect leaks in nearly real-time.

“Our staff has aggressively pursued federal grants and state water conservation funds that reduce our operating costs,” said Director Bill Moorhead, P.E., a civil engineer with more than four decades of experience in the water and wastewater industry.

The District has also placed an emphasis on using technology to reduce operating costs and improve customer service.

“More than 75 cents of every ratepayer dollar goes toward our essential operations of buying water, treating wastewater, and maintaining infrastructure,” said Moulton Niguel Director Gary R. Kurtz.

With so much uncertainty in California water policy, Moulton Niguel is preparing for the future by setting aside a sizable budget reserve. Under the 2019-20 budget, Moulton Niguel will maintain $68.2 million in total reserves. The District maintains four types of reserves: a General Operating Reserve, a Self-Insurance Reserve, a Rate Stabilization Reserve, and an Emergency Reserve.

Moulton Niguel Water District delivers high-quality drinking water, recycled water and wastewater services to customers in Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, Dana Point, and San Juan Capistrano. A leader in conservation and environmental protection, Moulton Niguel maintains the lowest average water bill in South Orange County.