EQSD pleads its case to LAFCO

Dan McDonald

Staff Writer

June 15, 2011 – The East Quincy Services District took another step in the process of ending its association with the Quincy Community Services District last week.

EQSD’s attorney, Bob Zernich, told the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) board, during its June 6 meeting at the Plumas County Courthouse in Quincy, that the decision to end the consolidation effort was simply a matter of money.

“There’s a lot of nonsense in the paper about why we’re doing it,” Zernich told the board. “It has nothing to do with bad feelings or bad karma. It has to do with money.”

Zernich explained the EQSD board decided it could better serve its customers by remaining a separate entity and building its own treatment facility.

He said the 30-year-old sewage treatment plant run by QCSD has too many problems that could cost as much as $30 million to fix.

LAFCo Executive Officer John Benoit said he would look at all the facts as soon as he received an official application from EQSD.

Zernich said EQSD has the application prepared and the money available to pay the fees (reported to be about $10,000) needed to dissolve the American Valley Community Services District (AVCSA).

A public hearing on the dissolution resolution was scheduled for Tuesday, June 14, at EQSD’s office in Quincy.

AVCSA was formed 15 years ago when Quincy’s two services districts began the process of consolidating into one district to serve American Valley.

The consolidation never officially happened, despite many meetings and well over $100,000 in costs and fees. The districts continued to operate independently during the process.

The consolidation began to unravel this year when the QCSD board voted to endorse its general manager, Larry Sullivan, as a candidate to lead AVCSA.

The EQSD board perceived that vote as a slight against its general manager at the time, Mary Henrici.

Despite the reported bad feelings and frustration on the East Quincy board, Zernich insisted last week that the decision was strictly financial. He said East Quincy is paying Quincy $340,000 per year for water treatment.

“And it’s going up to about $370,000 next year,” Zernich said.

The East Quincy district has received at least two bids for building its own plant.

“The lowest was $1.7 million,” Zernich said. “They would bring the equipment and (EQSD) would have to build it, which isn’t quite what we wanted.

“The highest one was $5.7 million, by a company that will bring in all the equipment, build it, and run it for a year and turn it over to East Quincy.”

He said the project would be financed through a private loan to be paid over 10 to 12 years. He added the district’s customers would not experience higher rates.

Zernich said the proposed EQSD plant would be able to service QCSD if needed.

“If Quincy decides to abandon their plant entirely, they could pay the cost to add on to the East Quincy plant to whatever extent they need and turn the flow around and come back to East Quincy,” he told the board.

Zernich said East Quincy’s sewer system is generally newer than Quincy’s, which he said has leaks and consequently processes a lot of groundwater.

“Quincy’s pipes are old — going back 100 years or better,” Zernich said. “And they are processing more groundwater than they are sewage.”

He said Quincy has 5 million gallons of water flowing into its plant, compared to 250,000 gallons from East Quincy.

“There is no way (Quincy) can continue to process this groundwater,” Zernich said. “The worst thing going through a sewer plant is water.”

LAFCo board member Robert Meacher asked Zernich, “So, (the Quincy system) is broken beyond repair?”

“I don’t know. It just hasn’t been repaired in the last 15 years,” Zernich said. “And what brought it to loggerheads was a few months ago, when we had a meeting of the American Valley community district. The East Quincy board asked the Quincy board, ‘When are you going to replace the plant?’ And they said they’re not.

“They’ve got a permit until 2015. And they are going to worry about it then.”

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