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CPUD board meets to discuss end of year issues

The Chester Public Utility District board of directors met for its regular board meeting Dec. 13, to discuss a series of agenda items affecting district operations.

The board approved both the Nov. 8 regular meeting minutes and the Dec. 1 special meeting minutes, as well as giving its approval of the Oct. 16 district financials budget report.

General Manager’s report

District General Manager Frank Motzkus said that since the board’s last meeting, district operations have been very busy, with administration, utilities, and fire each rising to the occasion to keep the district running smoothly.

He said Cheryl Johnson, board clerk and office manager, has been working with Chester Fire Chief/Emergency Services Director Joe Waterman, to ensure that the regular employees were all correctly added into the CalPERS retirement system.

Waterman was also involved in sending out payment requests to the Forest Service for monies owed to the district for services rendered during the past fire season.

In addition, Motzkus was helping Mary Cheek, district accountant, on updating the accounting and payroll system software that Motzkus said would require a new computer that could accommodate the updated software.

Broussard annexation pending

Some discussion covered the Broussard annexation, consisting of a 50-acre plot north of town owned by Travis and Kacie Broussard, who would like to have the land privately developed once LAFCo approves their application.

Motzkus said county counsel has been notified by the district auditor on the proposed Broussard annexation, and was expecting a call by counsel to start negotiations regarding establishing a county and district tax sharing agreement.

Olsen Barn water request

The Olsen Barn water connection request is still pending, he said. Annexing the Olsen property would allow the water main to be tapped and a new pipe installed into the property to provide drinking water and a source of water for fire suppression on the parcel. He said he was still waiting to hear from the Feather River Land Trust on the status of its application to LAFCo.

A 10-foot easement has been identified that would allow water to be delivered to the barn site without disturbing private property, Motzkus added.

Next, Motzkus updated the board on the video and report of the completed sewer inspection by APS on the east side of town.

“We reviewed several areas and discovered that a section of the Myrtle Street line needs to be replaced,” Motzkus said, and thanked the board for having a special meeting on Dec. 1 to approve repairs.

He said he met with Dig It Construction on Dec. 6 and set the wheels in motion to get the project done as soon as possible, possibly after the holidays or just after New Year’s.

A CPUD staff member would notify merchants before the project got underway, he stated.

Two unrelated repairs were made within the past couple of weeks, Motzkus remarked, involving the replacement of a new concrete slab at the district’s laboratory building.

The previous slab would “frost heave” upwards during the winter and block access to the chlorine room, he explained.

“The new slab has been anchored to the building foundation and the surrounding slabs to prevent movement,” during cold spells,” he said.

A lateral sewer line on Cedar Street had been completely choked off by tree roots and could not be cleaned. Dig It Construction was employed to replace the section in just two days, he said.

Continuing, Motzkus said that Ed Anderson, district engineer, has been working on finishing the reports required by “our wastewater discharge permit,” and was on schedule to have the Pollution Prevention Plan submitted by the December deadline and the Salinity Evaluation and Minimization Plan by January.

Fire Chief report

Waterman thanked the board for approving the purchase of the Zoll Monitor at the special meeting on Nov. 11. The monitor has been ordered and should arrive in the near future, said Waterman. The Zoll Monitor is used to monitor patient vital signs.

As discussed at a previous meeting, Waterman raised the topic of a new motorized gurney that would dramatically reduce strenuous lifting and the associated risk of back injury.

Two separate vendors had responded to bid requests, those being Stryker EMS and Ferno Gurney. Waterman told the board members that either of the gurneys, including tax and installation, would run around $40,000.

The board took a vote and unanimously approved the powered gurney request that they saw as a necessary expenditure for the health of employees.

Waterman responded to the approval by the board by saying, “This is more of an investment in our staff, rather than an investment in equipment.”

The next item in Waterman’s report covered the continuous request for reimbursement from the Forest Service for district operations during the past fire season which had not yet been paid, totaling approximately $2.5 million.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Forest Service trying to determine what it’s going to take for them to start paying our invoices account. … We haven’t received payments since September 28,” he said with a degree of frustration.

“I finally made contact with the supervisor of the payment section of the USFS, and was told that she had stopped payments due to not understanding why our employees were “portal to portal” eligible for reimbursement. I provided an explanation, but now my contact won’t answer the phone.”

Waterman added that every year for the past three years, when it’s time to submit invoices at the end of the fire season, he’s run into the same delays in payment.

In other news, Waterman said the fire department should receive the new $75,000 diesel exhaust system within the next month or so. The system attaches to the exhaust pipes of the fire engines and routes the exhaust directly outside the building, preventing the hot exhaust from being trapped inside the bay.

Also of note, Waterman said he had completed the Ground Emergency Medical Transport grant filing, which funds a portion of the expense that Medi-Cal doesn’t pay for ambulance service, “but the district only qualified for $6,000 this year, which is a significant reduction from previous years.”

Housing Westwood fire engines

CalFire approached Waterman to ask about housing one of the Westwood fire engines and three crewmembers while the new Westwood fire station is being built starting in May of next year.

“I met with the local battalion chief and he has a copy of an agreement that I will be reviewing,” Waterman said.

He said they’ll pay rent and a portion of utilities, “with the Westwood fire crew living in a space provided upstairs at the Chester fire station for as long as two years” while the project is completed.

“We’ll be negotiating with them next month,” he concluded.

Additional agenda items

The Plumas County Special Districts Association meeting was held on Nov. 9 in order to get the word out that there was a position open for a new board member.

Propane bids were sent out and received Dec. 2, but thus far CPUD only received one bid from Amerigas.

The Essential Services Work Truck bids were received on Dec. 9, but only one bid was submitted, possibly due to the complexity of the options that were requested to be added to the truck.

Chair Wes Scott said he was reluctant to move forward without at least three competitive bids from other potential commercial dealerships, perhaps by reducing vehicle options.

The County Public Works Department’s Solid Waste Task Force met Dec. 8 to implement a new solid waste ordinance that was opened for discussion at the Plumas County Board of Supervisors meeting Dec. 13.

LAFCo met Dec. 12 to provide an update on the Broussard annexation, as well as the 75-acre parcel where the owner is considering building an industrial park.

The annual CPUD Christmas dinner was held at the fire station Dec. 18.

The next scheduled CPUD meeting takes place at 251 Chester Airport Rd. on Jan. 10.

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