With Business and Finance Manager Mary Pat Frick retiring in December, the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District board approved a contract for accounting services at its Tuesday meeting.
Approved on a 4-1 vote with Director Kathy Otermat voting no, the board agreed to hire Vaughn Johnson, CPA, with the stipulation that the contract can be terminated with 30 days notice. Johnson has a business in Cameron Park.
General Manager Hank White explained that before recommending Johnson, he and Frick contacted six different firms and interviewed three, before recommending her firm for the job.
The need to find a replacement for Frick drew statements of gratitude for her services from the board and members of the public as well as considerable discussion on how best to replace her.
Some board members thought it might be better to recruit for a new business and finance manager rather than contract out the accounting services or to use a combination of staff and a consultant.
However Otermat and others did not want to hire a new person into the position until the PERS contribution for new employees was settled.
After voting to approve the contract, the board agreed to continue discussion of the topic at next month’s meeting.
White also requested the board approve receipt of a $685,550 grant from the California Department of Public Health and the Department of Water Resources. The funds will go toward a portion of the cost of the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) treatment plant retrofit and related water security activities. The board voted to accept the grant with Otermat voting no.
Related to that vote, was a request for the board to approve a resolution to proceed with the pre-qualification process for potential bidders on the ALT plant retrofit. Last month, potential bidders were notified they could pick up the pre-qualification packet. General Counsel William Wright said that a standard template put out by the Department of Industrial Relations will be used to rank potential bidders and disqualify those who don’t meet the minimum qualifications. Wright stressed that the process is not for choosing the contractor, but to pre-qualify who will be allowed to bid. Staff will be reviewing and ranking the responses and reporting the findings to the board.
Following a lengthy discussion of the topic, in which Wright had to repeatedly clarify the purpose of pre-qualifying bidders, he sighed and said, “We’ll be lucky to get any contractors to vote on this job. Really. We’ll scare them all away. It happens.” The board then voted to approve the resolution with Otermat voting no.
In other actions, Norm Krizl was appointed treasurer. He replaces Otermat, who was removed from the position in August.
White also reported that the district’s contract with local 39 Stationary Engineers expires at the end of December and negotiations will take place with the union over the next few months.
The board decided to continue posting agendas 72 hours before meetings, per the Brown Act, despite the fact that the State of California no longer reimburses agencies for doing so.
The board also passed on adopting a policy specific to the district governing public access to its records. Wright recommended staying with the existing public records act to avoid confusion.
In discussion items, board President Ray Griffiths noted that the rising cost of oil is affecting the cost of everything, including the cost of water service. He encouraged people not to blame others because the cost of living was going up. “Economic hard times are here to stay and it’s not going to get better,” he said.
Krizl discussed what was happening at the state level regarding water rights. He said the state expects Mountain Counties to mitigate the impact on the delta as it ships water to southern California.
“Everything is on the table and we can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “Environmental groups are defining things and foothill communities are not at the table.”
Resident Steve Miller agreed with Krizl’s comments. “I don’t think that the general population is aware or understands the impact. I keep coming back to the Owens River Valley. If we ignore history, we repeat it and I’d sure hate to see it happen in the mountains.”
Krizl said that the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association is providing information to the public but remarked that there remains a lot of apathy on the subject. “Well over half of the water going into the delta comes from the mountains,” Krizl said. “The delta is being affected by all the water going south and they want to use mountain county water to mitigate the effects.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.