At their fifth workshop, the board of directors of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District finalized a Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire a new general counsel for the district. The reworked RFP will be presented at the next regular board meeting for approval.
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With half of the workshop spent parsing the language of the RFP, there were some differences in what should be included depending how different members saw the role of counsel vis-a-vis the general manager and the board.
Board members Norm Krizl and Ray Griffiths wanted to ensure that the general manager had access to counsel without having to go through the board president. However, board members Kathy Otermat and Bonnie McLane wanted it made clear that counsel reported to the board of directors and not to the general manager.
Resident Dennis Goodenow of Garden Valley questioned why the board was spending time developing the RFP. “Your time should be spent on more executive things,” he said.
Otermat replied that because the district was under-staffed, she volunteered to do it. McLane noted that it would have been costly to hire a consultant to do the RFP, so the board thought it would do it during one of their workshops.
The entire board will make the decision of which candidates to interview once it receives responses to the RFP, which it expects to release in February.
Interim counsel John Knowlton has already indicated he intends to apply as permanent counsel.
The board then moved on to reviewing draft board policies that had been circulated at a previous workshop. Thirty-four pages of policies were available with more promised to come.
Board member Maria Capraun asked about board liability insurance and requested that it be included in the policy manual. She also suggested the board hire a board clerk to maintain all the paperwork they are creating.
The board then moved on to discuss whether to use the policy manual as a meeting guide or instead to use Robert’s Rules of Order. Otermat said she wanted the board to have protocols for everything. “The scariest thing is to run on custom,” she warned.
Griffiths responded that “our purpose is to run a water district, not to do the protocol thing.”
Goodenow said that many of the proposed policies were already in ordinance form and the board might have to go back and suspend the old ordinances.
General Manager Hank White said the new policies may not have the same authority or “teeth” as a board resolution. He advised the board to get legal advice first, saying that implementing an assessment district, for example, would need an ordinance.
Krizl suggested whittling down the new policies so they wouldn’t be in conflict with ordinances the district has had in place for decades.
Goodenow again questioned why the board was revising its policies. “This takes a lot of board and staff time to do and the workshop method is not a good way to get it done,” he said.
He also complained that some of the policy material set too low a standard, especially as it pertained to outlining how board members should conduct themselves. “These policies reflect on the board and the community and the wording should be more about policy than controlling behaviors,” he said.
McLane agreed, saying that some of the material bordered on micromanaging people’s behavior.
Otermat said the policies came from the California Special District policy handbook, to which Goodenow replied, “this is an example of what not to borrow from your neighbor.”
The last item taken up by the board was potential changes to the district’s ditch maintenance policies. White said the district has an existing ordinance that governs irrigation service. He suggested a starting place for the board would be to review the deed to the ditch system. The entire ditch system was bought by the district back in 1961. “We own the right to use and maintain it,” he said.
Capraun then read from the standard guidelines for maintaining ditches from the Corps of Engineers. She claimed there were problems in notifying property owners when work needed to be done.
White reminded the board that most of the ditches are 150 years old and there are 70 to 75 miles of them. Easements also vary in size. He concluded by saying there is an existing ordinance that covers most aspects of ditch maintenance.
With time running out, the discussion ended.
The next workshop will be on Feb. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the district headquarters. The main topic will be reviewing the policy on the use of district vehicles. The board will also continue its review of board and ditch maintenance policies.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.