A workshop held by the board of Georgetown Divide Public Utility District on Jan 17 ended with a decision that finally resolved a conflict with Caltrans over a highway construction project slated for later this year.
After listening to a presentation on the project by Kelly Shively, assistant operations manager for the district, the board voted to accept his recommendation to relocate a water line affected by an upcoming Caltrans highway improvement project at Highway 193 and Catbird Lane.
The board was facing a Feb. 1 deadline for notifying Caltrans on what they intended to do.
Shively said he and another staff member met with Caltrans staff regarding the issue. The two options explored for protecting the water line were either a protect-in-place plan or a relocation plan for that portion of the existing 8-inch water main that is in conflict with the proposed highway improvements.
Shively said excavation plans by Caltrans would leave the pipe exposed and hanging in the air, which could potentially lead to it rupturing, leaving hundreds of residents without water.
Shively noted that Caltrans informed him they would not pay for a protect-in-place plan unless it involved only minor work. However, the kind of work that Caltrans plans to do will require an extensive amount of restraining joints and supports that Caltrans said they would not pay for, according to Shively.
This information contradicted earlier reports from board member Kathy Otermat who had met with Caltrans along with her husband and resident Steve Miller. As a result of that meeting, Otermat recommended a protect-in-place plan, which she said would cost the district nothing and would obviate the need for a surveyor or engineering firm to do the work.
Responding to the information, board member Norm Krizl said, “We were told at the last meeting that this was all free. But that’s not true and you’re confirming that. The concept that this was freebie is flat-out wrong.”
Shively went on to discuss three different options for both a protect-in-place plan and relocation plan. He recommended relocating the pipe over the summer to avoid any potential interruptions in water service or conflicts with the highway construction slated for the fall. He further recommended that the district hire consultants and contractors to do the work.
Hank White, general manager, had made the same recommendation to the board last year.
Shively reminded the board that if they didn’t make a decision and meet the Feb. 1 deadline, Caltrans could simply send the district a letter telling them to get their water line out of Caltrans’ right of way.
The board then voted to accept Shively’s recommendations, but asked that in-house staff be used as much as possible on the project.
The board also discussed staffing needs and what services could be outsourced at the district. Board President Bonnie McLane had previously suggested having El Dorado County handle the district’s accounts payable and El Dorado Irrigation District manage the district’s human resource accounts.
Krizl offered that the district needed to fill the position of business and finance manager rather than outsource that function. “The board has already approved that position and he (Hank White) needs to fill that slot,” he said.
Board member Maria Capraun brought up that the job description for the position was 30 years old. However, White said it was only 10 years old and the previous business and finance manager had provided an updated list of her responsibilities before she left.
The board then directed White to proceed with filling the position and to provide an updated job description and salary range for the position at their regular February or March meeting.
The last item taken up at the workshop was developing an RFP to find a new general counsel for the district. On an interim basis, John Knowlton — an Auburn-based attorney — is serving as counsel. Krizl noted that the district already has an invoice for $2,800 from Knowlton but no contract.
However, Otermat, who said she had been in contact with the attorney, circulated what she said was a signed contract from him which she presented to the other board members.
Krizl commented that Knowlton charges $225 an hour for his services while Bill Wright, their previous counsel, only charged $200. “He (Knowlton) also charges us to drive from Auburn to Georgetown but Bill never did,” said Krizl.
With time running out on the workshop, board member Maria Capraun passed around a RFP for legal counsel used by the Tahoe City Public Utility District. The board will discuss it further at their next workshop.
That workshop will be from 4 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the district office. The main topic of the meeting will be on budgeting for this fiscal year and next.