The final workshop of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District last week drew as many members of the public as it did board members, with Kathy Otermat missing and only four people in the audience.
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On tap for the evening was a presentation by Garden Valley resident Dennis Goodenow on different policy management options open to the board.
Goodenow, who has attended many of the workshops scheduled by the board over the past two months, began by saying that certain board members and the public had expressed uncertainty and discomfort with some of the policies under discussion as well as concern over how to integrate new policies with existing district ordinances, resolutions and procedures.
Goodenow said he wanted to offer a way to move forward by suggesting four different options for accomplishing the board goal of creating a policy manual.
He said one option was to stay with the existing ordinance/resolution structure.
A second option was to develop a reference guide that would organize and systematize the various state laws and regulations, district policies, district ordinances, and district resolutions so that information could be easily accessed. He said this approach would not require any board action and little or no legal review.
A third option was to create a reference policy manual that would include all district policies as well as reference and describe all district ordinances and resolutions. He said this approach would require some board action and therefore some legal review.
A fourth option was a comprehensive policy manual. He said that option required codifying existing district ordinances and resolutions into a new policy manual along with all other district policies. He said this option might require board adoption and would most likely require extensive legal review.
Goodenow advised the board to go with a reference guide which he said would give them everything they wanted but without a lot of work. With everything pulled together in one place, he said the board would not need a lot of new policies.
Board member Norm Krizl thanked Goodenow for his work, but said that so far the workshops had produced no formal action that would result in a policy manual. “There’s only been individual work and discussion,” he remarked.
Krizl noted that two years ago a policy committee had been formed consisting of Otermat and board member Bonnie McLane, but not much came of it.
“I don’t know if we’re prepared to go down one road or another,” he said, noting that during the workshops board members had pulled policies “willy nilly.”
“Dennis, you commented that we should be mindful of existing ordinances,” Krizl continued. “Our ordinances and resolutions have been adopted over time.” He said during the workshops voluminous material had been presented, but they had no way of knowing whether there were contradictions between the new material and existing district policies, ordinances and resolutions. He advised the board to move ahead in a smart way rather than try to “bulldoze” over everything with new policies.
Goodenow agreed saying the board only needed to improve its tools and maybe adopt new policies and ordinances as needed.
Krizl went on to say, “We need to keep in mind we deliver water. We’re a small operation with a defined task. I’m concerned about what we’re doing. We’re adding to the bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake. If we need to clear things up, we could go there. We’ve been criticized for following tradition, but tradition has served us well for a long time.”
Board member Maria Capraun noted that she wanted to start with board policies and eventually get to a comprehensive guide. “The board doesn’t run itself effectively,” she added, saying that other policies were also being looked at such as the vehicle use policy and ditch policy.
She said she wanted policies on things before they became an issue. “I question how things are handled here and I want everything written in black and white.”
With time running out and nothing decided, McLane brought the discussion to a close, saying they will probably have more workshops in the future, but not for now.
General Manager Hank White added that the district is at the reference guide stage at present. He said the district does have an extensive list of policies, ordinances and resolutions covering the topics brought up by McLane, Otermat and Capraun, with many of them being on the books for 60 years. He said he knew where to find all of them and perhaps it was a communication failure that led some board members to not realize they already existed.
“But the information is not organized,” complained Capraun. “I have to search for things.”
Goodenow suggested the board ask the staff how to go about finding the information they needed so that the district could get to the point where everyone was pulling in the same direction.
Capraun then went on to assert that non-union personnel don’t have policies to follow and said she was missing the personnel manual. “There are things that are not there. It’s jumbled,” she complained, saying she wanted everything on the district’s Website for the public to see.
White responded by saying the majority of what Capraun was asking for was already on the Website.
Board member Ray Griffiths also reported he had called other districts in regard to research he is doing on ditch maintenance policies. He said that one large water district he contacted didn’t have a policy, but instead relied on common sense operating procedures.
The board also discussed the business manager position and upcoming budget discussions. White mentioned that the district already has a budget for the 2013-2014 year since they do two-year budgets.
McLane said she wanted to look at costs savings in that budget since next year’s budget projects a deficit.
The next regular meeting of the board of directors will be March 12, 9 a.m. at district headquarters.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.