Do we need four retired firefighters/paramedics running our Twentynine Palms Water District? The latest appointed member is a retired Riverside County fire captain whose son works for the water district. Potential conflict; about eight years ago, a management/union contract impasse existed. The board backed management.
I believe the board needs diversity and voted to re-elect Carol Giannini and elect newcomer Michael Arthur. Michael has a bachelor’s degree and management experience and is a safety officer aboard the base.
Carol continues to do an exemplary job and is currently the board president. Carol and Bob Coghill have gone to Sacramento to lobby, trying to get state grants and stop the much tighter proposed chromium 6 requirements and, as part of a group of small districts, successfully stop a state-proposed tax on all water meters! Re-elect Carol!
Next year the water district will be doing a rate study and union contract negotiations, along with meter upgrades and potential other capital improvement plan projects. Risk items exist due to the fluoride requirements exemption coming to an end and potentially new chromium 6 requirements. The outstanding general manager will reach the minimum retirement age in about 2½ years.
Five years ago, the previous GM used faulty assumptions on the rate study and proposed a 4.5-year rate increase of 58.52 percent along with a 9.5-year rate increase of 105.83 percent. I disputed the numbers in a editorial published on Nov. 13, 2014. The board already had issues with the GM, who left prior to the next board meeting. The new GM did a new rate study which resulted in a 26.4 percent raise over the 4.5 year period. We still got the water plant expansion CIP completed. I considered running but I viewed the public data release requirements as an identity theft risk.