Directors meet to elect officers, increase water rates

The CPUD regular board meeting convened July 16 with a quorum of directors present. A one-hour closed session was called to discuss with Safety Bargaining Unit’s negotiators on issues regarding the 2019-2020 labor pay scale and MOU involving the Stationary Engineers, Local 39 representative Anthony Crans, and safety shop stewards and firefighters Chadwick Walker and Matt Turner, CPUD Chester General District Manager Frank Motzkus and Interim Fire Chief Brian Layne.

After reconvening, no final decisions were reached, according to director Steve Trotter who also attended the closed-door session. It was determined that further negotiations would be postponed until a special meeting is scheduled for the following Tuesday.

Water increase hearing

No one from the public showed up to object to a 3 percent increase in water rates based on the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) criteria set by the board, which hasn’t been raised since 2017.

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The water increase is needed for projected needs involving repairs to the water system and to build reserves, Motzkus explained, including up to $30,000 currently needed to repair water tanks.

A motion was made to increase the water rates followed by a vote, approved by board members Steve Trotter and Royce Raker, with Director Steve Voboril voting against.

The 3 percent water rate increase will take effect in the next billing cycle, and is expected to cost water users up to 80 cents more each month, Motzkus estimated.

Electing officer positions

The directors opened up nominations to elect board officer positions, with Steve Trotter nominated and approved for the position of board chair, Steve Voboril as vice chair, and Royce Raker as district treasurer.

Workers compensation

Trotter presented a Personnel Committee update on pending changes to the Worker Compensation and health benefits for employees and administration staff, but had nothing new to report until a new carrier is found to replace the current agency with better benefits and possibly reduced premiums.

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The board has been working with Cody Conway of Interwest Insurance Services to find a new carrier. Any change to Worker Compensation is not expected until next year.

The current carrier has informed the district that there is likely to be up to a 24 percent increase in premiums next year.

Financial investments

Also presented to the board by Trotter was a reminder that monies set aside this year from the budget contract line item was invested in two CDs at Plumas Bank, one in the amount of $401,000 and the other for $350,000.

He said the Financial Committee would get together to see if there are any additional district funds that could be invested in alternative financial instruments other than CDs, such as insured bonds.

General Manager’s report

Motzkus stated that he still needed to get with the Personnel Committee soon to discuss how to fill the emergency services director/fire chief position currently held pro tem by Fire Chief Brian Layne.

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Risk Management Plan

Motzkus delivered an update to the board on the Risk Management Plan for the wastewater chlorine and sulfur dioxide system. He said the plan is progressing after Plumas County Environmental Health first performed an inspection on the system in December and discovered a few deficiencies. He said the county has also approved the plan.

A $4,096 cost to have the system modernized by Shasta Lake-based Lawrence & Associates, a private consulting firm providing civil engineering services was mentioned at a prior board meeting.

Water control board

The State Water Resources Control Board has signed an agreement regarding upgrading CPUD’s wastewater collection system, awarding the district $370,000 in funds to do the planning work to catalog proposed upgrades. The next step is to submit a budget request for a larger grant award dedicated to construction costs so the collection system can be repaired where it is needed and modernized.

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Representatives of The Kahlen Group, an engineering firm, and Spatial Wave, a company that digitizes records, have a project kick-off meeting Aug. 7 to let the district know what they can do before submitting a plan to SWRCB on behalf of the utility district.

Resignation notice

The board was informed that Clint Tissot, promoted to water/wastewater lead supervisor in 2016, has expressed his desire to leave Chester PUD to spend more time expanding his outside business.

Tissot has a 15-year career with the district since 2004, but stated to Motzkus during a private meeting that he would continue to work up to 20 hours per week until Allan Homme was up to speed on lead supervisor duties and responsibilities.

The lead supervisor role is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the water and wastewater divisions of the district.

There is not a final date set for his separation as of yet, added Motzkus. Trotter took a moment to reflect on his and the board’s appreciation for the years of excellent service and hard work by Tissot, noting he will be missed.

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Ethics training

The Plumas County Special Districts Association has scheduled a harassment/ethics training class Aug. 21 at the Mineral Building at the Plumas-Sierra Fairgrounds in Quincy, said Motzkus. The training includes a free lunch.

He asked that the directors let Cheryl Johnson, office manager/clerk to the board, know if they planned on attending the meeting.

District audit

Motzkus informed the board that he has received the final draft of the FY 2017-2018 Financial audit, which he said he would review soon and potentially have it finalized for presentation to the board members at the August meeting.

Fire Chief’s report

Interim Fire Chief Brian Layne stated that Fire Engine 7222 is back in service from Susanville, but that Engine 7221 is still in Redding for a radiator leak that should be fixed within the week.

CICCS review

The California Incident Command Certification System (CICCS) peer review committee met at the Chester firehouse June 27 and it went very well, Layne said.

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The following agencies were represented, including Plumas County OES, Lassen County OES, Cal OES, CalFire, USFS and Indian Valley Fire Department to make sure that all the qualifications for fire fighting personnel required by CICCS are met.

Salary survey

Layne said the 2019 salary survey is complete and was turned in by the July 1 deadline. The survey still needs a resolution and approval by the board, he added.

CalFire staff moves in

While the Westwood CalFire fire station is demolished and a larger facility is under construction, CalFire has moved one captain and two or three firefighters and one fire engine to the Chester Fire Department on July 6 on a 24/7 basis temporarily until the new facility is finished.

Invoice reimbursements

Layne said he has received zero dollars in June in reimbursements for services rendered from last fire season, but remains in constant communications with Cal OES regarding monies still owed to the CFD.

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The department has received $677 in miscellaneous monies, he noted, collected from rental fees from a property owned by CPUD on 198 Main St., as well as fees from the use of the district’s conference room.

Water tender to be returned

Due to budget concerns, water tender 32, on loan from the California Office of Emergency Services, will be returned sometime in late July, stated Layne.

Service calls and ambulance billing for the month of June

There were 43 service calls for the month of June, including 2 fire calls, 18 EMS calls in Chester and 5 calls outside Chester, 6 inter-facility flight transfers for emergency treatments, six traffic collisions, zero false alarms, two outside district overhead support calls, and four calls for public assistance.

The district billed out $63,487.74 for ambulance services and had so far received just $20,203.25 for the month. There was also $50 in collection payments.

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The next regular CPUD monthly meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 3 p.m., inside the CFD/CPUD conference room, 251 Chester Airport Road in Chester. Office phone: 258-2171.

Firewise update

Public Information Officer and firefighter Karen Lichti provided an update to the board on the Firewise Committee’s progress in its outreach efforts to community homeowners.

Currently people are winding down after completing their work creating defensible space around their properties as a way to help mitigate the dangers of hot embers starting spot fires that could lead to their houses catching fire, Lichti said.

Community members can request a free Home Ignition Fire Assessment to provide information to homeowners on what they’ve done right and also how they can further improve “hardening” their dwelling against wildfire.

She said she’s also stressing to the public that the Firewise Committee would like to receive from homeowners who have spent time and resources cleaning up their yards to send cost estimates by filling out a Property Owners Time & Expense Sheet available at the fire station, the Chester Library and Chester Post office on the bulletin board, or calling Karen Lichti at 258-3456 and providing data on expenditures.

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The information collected is for statistical purposes only, and is really important she said so that the CFD can maintain its Firewise accreditation.

Forms can also be downloaded at chesterPUD.org from the Firewise section under What Can You Do To Help. Print out and return to: Chester Fire Department, P.O. Box 177, Chester, CA 96020.

Lichti added that many people throughout the Basin and the whole county have seen the benefits of clearing their properties by incorporating Firewise guidelines that have resulted in their insurance being reinstated.