Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No. 7 A year of turmoil at GDPUD

From page A13 | January 04, 2013 |



The past year was a tumultuous one for the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District.

Controversies, largely instigated by board members, led to the resignation or retirement of several long-term contractors and staff including General Counsel William Wright, Business and Finance Manager Mary Pat Frick, and most of the district’s administrative staff. General Manager Hank White attributed their leaving to the hostile work environment created by certain board members.

In March, emotions were at such a high pitch that a group of local residents launched a campaign to recall board member Kathy Otermat who they accused of being “derelict in the performance of her duties and responsibilities.” However, the recall failed after the group couldn’t get the required number of signatures by the July 16 deadline.

In May, Otermat was accused by board member Norm Krizl of trying to undermine GDPUD after she requested 10 years worth of documents from both the California Department of Public Health and GDPUD. The dispute continued to the June board meeting where accusations were exchanged between Otermat and General Manager Hank White over unfettered access to hundreds of files.

A different controversy erupted in August when the board removed Kathy Otermat as treasurer after she was accused by district employees of removing private and confidential employee information from the district office when she came in to sign checks. While Otermat denied all charges, she was removed as treasurer and Krizl was appointed to take her place.

In November, the balance of power on the board shifted when incumbent Norm Krizl was reelected but board member Bonnie Neeley was ousted by newcomer Maria Capraun.

The December board meeting established a new voting bloc made up of Otermat, Bonnie McLane, and Capraun. Among other things, the threesome voted for several evening board meetings, two months worth of workshops, the immediate dismissal of Wright, and the hiring of a new interim counsel. They also decided to review White’s contract at the next meeting.

Despite all the controversies and distractions, the district staff accomplished a number of goals, including securing various grants and loans to pay for the retrofit of the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) Water Treatment Plant; completion of a Proposition 218 process tied to the ALT retrofit; completion of a five-year budget; establishment of a list of qualified bidders for the ALT project; the implementation of technology improvements including a new GIS/GPS mapping program; and the amendment of their CalPERS contract which will result in reduced district pension costs for new employees.

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





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