As multiple fans hummed outside the meeting room, board members and residents gathered on Tuesday for the monthly meeting of the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District.
The fans had been brought into the office to dry it out after it was flooded over the weekend by a broken toilet.
Resurfacing once again as the main topic of the board meeting was the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) Water Treatment Plant retrofit and what has been done to date to move the project forward.
General Manager Hank White reported that Mary Pat Frick, finance manager, had secured an $80,000 grant from the El Dorado County Water Agency. The funds will be used to hire someone to ensure the ALT retrofit is in compliance with design plans for the plant. White also reported that they are working on the paperwork to secure the loan for the retrofit and expect that everything will be in place by September.
William Wright, general counsel, gave a general overview of the process to be used to review the qualifications and award a contract for rebuilding the ALT plant.
Wright said that they will issue a request for qualifications to potential bidders. Then they will request bids from qualified bidders. He explained the district won’t be issuing a RFP because the plans for the retrofit will be specific enough that bidders will know exactly what they are bidding on.
He stressed the importance of finding a contractor experienced in building water treatment plants and to not necessarily take the lowest bid since change orders on low bids can end up costing the district more money than paying for a more experienced contractor.
The topic of who would open the sealed bids arose with board member Kathy Otermat suggesting that they be opened during a regular board meeting. However, because of the size of the project and interest in it, board member Norm Krizl suggested that a special meeting might be needed.
Resident Pat Snelling recommended that those hired for the project be drawn from veterans and the local labor pool and that an apprenticeship program be included as part of the contract so that people could be trained in the work. “It should be a high requirement,” she said.
“We will try to hire locally as much as possible,” said Wright, “but we have to follow the law.”
Otermat asked that a binder be prepared that would include all the information pertaining to the retrofit, including construction bids, correspondence with the state Department of Public Health, and other documents. However, the rest of the board appeared to be satisfied with the monthly updates they are receiving from staff and with being copied on relevant correspondence between White and the state Department of Public Health.
However, not everyone at the meeting was happy. At the beginning of the meeting resident Jack Podsedly claimed that the entire Proposition 218 process authorizing the plant retrofit was done using deception and there was no direction from the state to do the retrofit. “You have a chance to change this,” he said.
In response, Board President Ray Griffiths explained that the retrofit was needed because the state changed its regulations after an outbreak of spores in another state.
“More chlorination of the water was needed and the tanks at the current plant are not large enough to do this. We needed a larger facility to kill the spores,” he explained. “Our tanks are not large enough to do this. More contact time of the water with the chlorine was needed.” The state told the district it needed to solve the problem, said Griffiths, but didn’t tell us how. “So I don’t think anyone was lying,” he said.
“I didn’t say you lied,” claimed Podsedly, “I said the (general) manager lied.”
“The state said we had to meet these new standards,” replied Griffiths. “And one option was to build a new plant.”
“Was there a comprehensive effort to retrofit the plant at a lower cost?” demanded Podsedly. “Was the correct thing done?”
Another topic of discussion was the ongoing effort to recall Otermat, who was behind the recall, and who was paying for different articles and ads in the local newspaper for and against the recall.
Board member Bonnie Neeley said that neither she nor White were behind the recall after Otermat suggested they were involved. Resident Michelle Bliss, who said she has been part of the recall from the beginning, said that she had never seen Neeley at any of their meetings.
Otermat also accused White of not complying with the public records act. White responded by saying he had. When Otermat tried to involve Wright in the discussion, he begged off saying “I want to be left out of this. It’s not productive.” Neeley then told Otermat her accusations were “insulting,”
Breaking the impasse was resident Steve Miller. He had previously submitted suggestions on protocols to follow when requesting documents.
“We need to develop a reasonable policy that takes into account staffing and public records disclosure. Staff need to have a period of time to produce the requested information,” Miller said.
The board then decided that Krizl, Otermat, and Miller should develop the protocols and bring them back to the board for consideration.
In other business, Neeley and Otermat said they would research the availability of a larger facility for board meetings. White reported staff had been very busy in June installing new pump tanks and repairing service and main line leaks. “Two to three times a week we had leaks,” he said.
Krizl also reported that the state was putting off a new water bond until 2014 because of low public support.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or email@example.com. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.