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Proposed finance committee outcome of GDPUD workshop

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From page A1 | January 30, 2013 |

A Thursday evening workshop held by the board of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District ended with a decision to consider appointing a finance committee to help sort out multiple financial issues and policies.

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Board member Norm Krizl started the meeting by saying the workshops seemed to be turning into regular meetings and some members of the public were complaining to him about action items being slipped into the agenda.

“There’s some concern about what’s going on,” he said. “We’ve been pouring it on the staff and a lot of these issues belong at regular meetings.”

The Jan. 24 workshop was the fourth in a series held by the Board of Directors with this one centered around the budget and long-term planning.

The board and audience members discussed different financial issues, including the need to deal with projected deficits in the district’s budget over the next five years. Board President Bonnie McLane expressed concern about the rising cost of contributions to CalPERS (the state retirement system), Workman’s Compensation, and employee health care. Audience members asked that money be set aside in a reserve to pay for future improvements to the district’s water treatment facilities and ditch system.

As the discussion jumped from one topic to the next, board members brought up the difficulty of planning when they didn’t know what the state might do regarding CalPERS’ unfunded liabilities or how future restrictions on water rights could impact district revenue.

One study at Stanford University estimated the shortfall in CalPERS as being anywhere between $12 billion and $290 billion, depending upon future returns on investments. To address the problem, the state recently raised the retirement age for new enrollees in CalPERS. However, that change is now being litigated. GDPUD modified its own CalPERS contract last December.

The state also has a plan to reduce per capita water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. Potentially the plan could affect district revenue.

Board member Norm Krizl said the state is already discussing the idea of using Google Earth to assess how much water people need and would then use GDPUD to enforce the water restrictions. “The state has put out some guidelines and we’re complying with them,” he said. “But they could change their mind any number of times.”

With so many topics in the air and so many unknowns, the board decided that a finance committee should be formed to look into the issues raised during the workshop. They discussed including members of the public as well as board members on the committee. The topic will be taken up again at their regular board meeting.

The agenda for the next workshop will include a review of a Request For Proposal to hire a new general counsel, review of a draft of board policies, and discussion of ditch maintenance policies.

That workshop will be held on Jan. 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the district headquarters.

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

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