The board of directors met for its regular Chester Public Utility District meeting June 20 to discuss a number of agenda items, including reviewing the organization’s financials, recent audit reports and a vacancy on the board.
Plumas County Supervisor Sherrie Thrall attended the meeting as well, to answer any questions regarding taxation issues that could affect the district.
She also provided information to the board that this year the district would still receive 25 percent toward street lighting maintenance from the Plumas County Department of Public Works’ road funds, but that it was unlikely the district would receive the money in its budget in outlying years.
General Manager’s report
The fiscal year 2016/17 audit results had been received, said Frank Motzkus, district general manager.
Later during the meeting, Board Chair Wes Scott introduced Clay Singleton of Singleton & Auman, an auditing firm with offices in Susanville and Chester, who was in attendance at the meeting to address the board on the results of its recent audit, informing them that the audit was clean and that no glaring problems were found.
There were a couple of minor points Singleton wanted to call the board’s attention to, however.
“We like to look at areas of risk,” he said. “We know how the district operates, with the controls you have in place,” to avoid any inappropriate dealings regarding the use of district funds.
As a reminder, Singleton recommended that the board continue to take precautions through careful analysis of revenues and expenses through checks and balances between directors, which the board does routinely anyway, he noted.
He further suggested that a process be followed to make sure prior authorization by more than one board member was required when making large district purchases.
He also said that the district’s CalPERS pension and health plan is underfunded by just over $600,000, “because people are living a lot longer, and healthcare is more expensive than ever.”
With additional miscellaneous liabilities considered in the budget, Singleton noted that the district is underfunded by about $1.1 million.
Singleton said the result of the district’s outstanding liabilities would be an increase in future CalPERS monthly premiums.
District budget completed
In addition, the final fiscal year 2017/18 budget had been completed by Motzkus and was adopted unanimously after the board reviewed the document.
Wes Scott thanked Motzkus for his “exemplary work” in compiling the budget in an easy-to-understand format.
Motzkus told the board, “The county finally has made a proposal for tax sharing,” with regards to the Broussard annexation, consisting of a 50-acre plot north of town owned by Travis and Kacie Broussard.
The county recommended that the district receive seven percent of any taxes, he said, once the Broussard parcel is annexed, based on the increase in value of the property after improvements on the land are made.
Olsen Barn water service
Motzkus said there was still no change as far as he knows with plans to extend water service to the Olsen Barn property, even though he has not heard from the Feather River Land Trust, the property’s manager.
FRLT requested a water line that would deliver drinking water to people visiting the Olsen Barn and meadow, as well as providing a source of water for fire suppression.
The board previously approved the project, and the FRLT can now move forward, said Motzkus.
An easement has already been identified where the metered water pipe can be extended onto the property, once the FRLT has chosen a contractor.
Motzkus mentioned that the FRLT would need to contact CPUD beforehand as to when the project will start so that the CPUD can provide some oversight during the process.
Seasonal work position
Andy Capella, maintenance supervisor for the district, has chosen a local resident from a number of applicants for the open seasonal maintenance worker position, and will be reviewing his references before he starts the job July 10, if his background check is approved, said Motzkus.
Secretary position Motzkus said the district received eight applications for the secretary position, currently held by Helen Murray, who will be retiring later this year.
Of the eight, four applicants were interviewed on June 12, and ranked accordingly. One person was chosen and will first go through a background check and drug screening before starting. She’s expected to fill the fulltime position July 10.
The CPUD is still searching to fill the vacancy left by outgoing board member John Knopp. So far, no one has shown an interest in the open seat. Anyone registered to vote in the district that may be interested in joining the board can contact the CPUD at 258-2171.
Fire Chief’s report, Emergency Services Division
Chester Fire Chief Joe Waterman was not available for the board meeting, but was able to provide his monthly report in written form.
Capt. Chris Dean was tasked with reading the report to the board instead.
“We have completed lot inspections throughout the district,” Dean said, adding that violation forms have already been filled out and mailed to those property owners who need to remove fire hazards from their properties.
Dean said Waterman has submitted multiple documents for the Ground Emergency Medical Transport grant that helps the district with its ambulance billings.
“We have not received the official request from FEMA to begin the audit,” on the recent purchase of the diesel exhaust capture system recently installed in the station’s emergency vehicle bay, Dean said.
He said he was very confident that the necessary documentation required by the agency would be available once the department is notified to submit information on the exhaust system’s expenditures.
Emergency vehicle repair
Dean said the station’s Type 3 engine has been red-tagged and removed from service after its annual inspection revealed the need to repair multiple hydraulic leaks and replacement of a few safety items.
“We’re looking into the cost of repairs, but its likely to be significant,” Dean said, reading from Waterman’s report. The engine has been moved to a nearby hangar for storage until there’s more information on the cost of repairs and to formulate a plan to move forward, he said.
“At some point we need to make a decision as to what we’re going to do,” referring to the high cost considerations in repairing the fire engine.
In addition, the department’s Type 1 engine is out of service as well, Dean noted. “We’re awaiting a new alternator,” which was expected to arrive shortly, he said, placing the engine back in service promptly.
Also reported, the Office of Emergency Services out of Quincy delivered a used water tender last month to Chester Fire for use during fire season or at routine structure or vegetation fires in town.
Waterman said in his report that training and familiarization is going well, as most personnel have had a chance to drive and operate the vehicle.
“There are a few mechanical issues that will need to be resolved,” prior to putting the vehicle in service, Dean said, adding that a slight delay is expected since any expenditure over $100 must first be approved by OES.
The water tender had its first response locally to Melissa Avenue in Chester on June 15, to help extinguish a fire caused by someone lighting a cottonwood tree on fire, which damaged a nearby carport.
Dean wanted to emphasize to property owners and the general public to be aware that the cottony-covered seeds from the cottonwood are easily ignited, with flames spreading quickly, and have been the cause of a number of fires including two structure fires several years ago.
Dean mentioned that the fire department had made extra arrangements in positioning its assets in preparation for the recently held Fourth of July festivities to prevent fires from the possible misuse of fireworks.
During the month of June, there were two fire responses, 18 EMS responses by paramedics in Chester, two traffic collisions and eight inter-facility flight transfers to airports for emergency treatments outside Chester.
The next CPUD board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 18, at 3 p.m., and open to the public.