Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New bloc runs GDPUD board

From page A1 | December 17, 2012 | 7 Comments

The newly constituted board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District hammered through a series of decisions at their Tuesday meeting that shifted control of the district into the hands of a voting bloc made up of Bonnie McLane, Kathy Otermat, and Maria Capraun.

Taking the lead in reordering things was board member Bonnie McLane who recommended switching the board meetings in April, May and June from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which she said would invite more public participation. While some board members and those in the audience disagreed, saying that doing so in the past had made very little difference, the motion was approved anyway by board members Otermat, McLane and Capraun with Norm Krizl and Ray Griffiths voting no.

McLane also proposed holding workshops every Thursday in January and February from 4 to 6 p.m. on various topics. Krizl said he wasn’t against the workshops, but suggested coming up with a list of topics before scheduling them. However, he was outvoted by Otermat, McLane and Capraun, with Krizl and Griffiths voting no.

The first workshop will be held Jan. 3 on board policies and procedures with other subjects yet to be determined.

General Manager Hank White reported that the recent storm brought 10.76 inches of rain in November as measured at the Auburn Lake Trails Water Treatment Plant. The additional rain caused Stumpy Meadows Reservoir to rise 4.5 feet.

He noted that the Environmental Protection Agency notified the district that it would receive a $1.4 million grant for improvements to ALT water plant. He said it would help with design costs and other expenses. Originally the grant was for building the Greenwood Lake Water Treatment Plant. That project was later abandoned due to its cost. White said the actual amount of the grant needs to be clarified as some of the original funds have already been spent.

He also reported that the district had received approval for a loan from the USDA to pay for the ALT retrofit.

The board approved a rate reduction to homeowners within the Auburn Lake Trails zone of $2.15 a month. The reduction will start with the next billing cycle. It includes homes within a housing development that are not connected to the community disposal unit. McLane said the cost reduction was in keeping with a cost of service study done two years ago.

Different objections were raised regarding the reduction because of concerns that a rate change would cut into reserves. In addition, it was mentioned that homes currently connected to the community disposal unit are underpaying, according to the same cost of service study. Board member Norm Krizl suggested having a workshop before making any rate changes, but Otermat, McLane, and Capraun voted for the change with Griffiths and Krizl voting against.

Otermat also reported on her contact with Caltrans regarding the potential relocation of utility infrastructure in Kelsey associated with a Highway 193 improvement project. Two options have been explored: relocating certain pipes during construction or working around them.

Originally Otermat was only asked to gather additional information from Caltrans and report back to the board. However, in November she met with Caltrans staff accompanied by local contractor Steve Miller and Otermat’s husband, David, who is also a contractor.

Based on the meeting, Otermat made her own engineering recommendations to the board for what’s called a “Protect-in-Place” plan, saying that it would obviate the need for a surveyor or engineering firm.

The discussion on this item prompted White to say that the board was starting to dictate the day-to-day operations of the staff and that it shouldn’t be inserting itself into negotiations with Caltrans.

The board finally decided to have White contact Caltrans for more specific information on the project and to copy the board on the e-mails. That motion was approved by Otermat, McLane and Capraun with Griffiths and Krizl voting no.

Otermat’s next action was to recommend replacing General Counsel William Wright with an interim counsel until an RFP is issued to find a permanent law firm to advise the district. Wright submitted his resignation at the last meeting but offered to stay on as long as needed to help the district transition to a new legal firm.

Otermat suggested the board write the RFP, saying “counsel works for the board, not the general manager.” In making her recommendation, Otermat said she had already contacted several potential lawyers, including attorney John Knowlton who is a member of the Shafer Law Group in Auburn. Knowlton was in the audience on Tuesday.

Otermat went on to accuse Wright of helping Bonnie Neeley with her ads for Otermat’s recall. Wright responded by denying he had anything to do with the ads.

Wright reiterated that he was available to help the district until it selected a new law firm.

After a short break in the meeting, Otermat, McLane and Capraun voted to remove Wright from his duties effective immediately and to hire Knowlton as interim counsel. Krizl and Griffiths noted no. Wright was paid $200 an hour for his services. Knowlton will be paid $250 an hour.

It was also announced that a special board meeting to finalize the amended CalPERS contract will be held on Dec. 27 at 6 p.m.

It was reported that the district had to spend $528 for Life-Lock after the incident in which Otermat was accused by employees of photographing their private information. She was removed as treasurer as a result. The credit protection program was bought for employees worried that their credit information could be compromised.

Mary Pat Frick, who is the district’s business and finance manager, was recognized for her 10 years of service with the district.

The board also requested that the general manager’s contract be brought up at the next meeting.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | 7 comments

  • Dink LaneDecember 16, 2012 - 1:54 pm

    Maybe the MD should REWRITE the headline: "New GDPUD Board puts forth methods that save the District thousands of dollars." .... Then the lead should say: "Board member, Kathy Otermat, worked with CalTrans after several attempts to get a response from the General Manager over the last few months. She was able to AVOID the cost thousands of dollars that the district would have to pay to move the water pipes for pending road construction as the General Manager suggested. This way customers will NOT lose water access and the District will save money. The newly reelected Board member Norm Krizl and and other Board member, Ray Griffiths, objected to this cost saving method......" etc, etc.... Wouldn't it be nice if the Reporter wouldn't work so hard to spin this story against Otermat's good work..... Hodson is the one with egg on her face... This is a lousy story and poorly written.

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  • Foaming at the MouthDecember 17, 2012 - 8:06 am

    Or maybe it could say, "After a back room meeting during a break in the public meeting, the new majority hired Otermat's crony as counsel, at a 25% increase to ratepayers."

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  • SparkyDecember 17, 2012 - 8:58 am

    @Foaming got it right plus it is legally questionable that individual board members can autonomously without specific direction of the Board. For all of those complaining about EID, GDPUD actions over the next few years will inevitably demonstrate whether hacking and slashing will save money or just add more future expenses the utility district. Only time will tell.

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  • turn tap, water comes outDecember 17, 2012 - 8:40 pm

    So just to set expectations...I pay $60 for two months of crystal clear water. That's $1 a day. I pay my bill on time, and water comes out the tap. You screw that up, the value of my home goes down. Expectations set.

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  • Dawn Hudson Watch DogDecember 17, 2012 - 11:22 pm

    I just listened to the audio and Dawn's version of the meeting as usual is quite tainted. She omitted the part where she was part of the news story during the GDPUD meeting. Sharply critized for her salacious headlines and slanted reporting by a member of the public. Did I hear correctly too that her loud cackles stopped the meeting? As the public citizen who critized Dawn's reporting is no longer a subscriber of Mtn Democrat Hetchet Job newspaper, neither am I. I am just watching patiently as their sales go down and they only have themselves to blame. Gee did they really think that Dawn's biased reporting would actually be accepted as the truth from those poor GDPUD customers? Sorry, it only enforces to us, that the good old boy system is alive and well - starting with Pubisher Richard Esposito, Editor Mike Raffety and their puppet Dawn Hudson.

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  • Terry - Garden ValleyDecember 18, 2012 - 12:00 am

    So how come Dawn never called the previous Board majority a bloc? I understand they had control and wouldn't let Director's Otermat and McLane get policies passed? I understand that Dawn's Watchdog is correct. She too has fallen under the spell of the GM Hanky Panky White and Bloated Big Mouth Norm Krizl. Dawn you rascal you, leaving your ethics behind just to swoon over those big boys.

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  • EvelynDecember 18, 2012 - 6:54 am

    Dawn Hodson's 12/19/2012 CORRECTION: In a Dec. 17 article titled “New bloc runs GDPUD,” resident Steve Miller was described as a contractor. He is not. He is a retired Naval officer and retired phone company employee.

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