Where I Stand: Indian Valley Community Service District Board of Directors on the State of the District

  This letter is intended to inform the public about the state of the Indian Valley Community Services District. It is not meant to alarm anyone, but the district’s situation is in fact dire.

  IVCSD provides critical services throughout Indian Valley: fresh, clean drinking water (in Greenville and Crescent Mills); sewage collection and treatment (Greenville and Taylorsville); fire suppression and emergency response through an entirely volunteer fire department (throughout the district); open park space and recreation opportunities including baseball diamonds, basketball courts, and a public swimming pool (Greenville and Taylorsville); and streetlights (Greenville and Taylorsville).

  IVCSD is a public agency governed by an elected, five-member board of directors. The board employs a general manager and other staff necessary to operate the district – currently about four people with plenty of need to justify several more.

  For the past several years, the district has operated on a budget of approximately $1.5 million in revenues – mostly from property taxes and water/sewer user charges. Through responsible fiscal stewardship, IVCSD built modest fiscal reserves while keeping user fees as low as was responsible.

  Unfortunately, as the Dixie Fire was wreaking havoc on the lives of our residents and customers it was also destroying millions of dollars worth of district buildings and equipment and leaving us with a necessary clean-up effort that inadvertently caused additional millions of dollars of infrastructure damage.

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While the loss of homes and property in and around Greenville is heartbreaking, the massive reduction in water/sewer customers has left IVCSD on the brink of insolvency. The district’s budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 estimates that without financial assistance, the sewer fund will be completely depleted around next Spring and the water fund drained perhaps a year after that. There are simply too few customers left to support the operation of the systems.

  Recent insurance issues have resulted in a 2,000 percent increase in our fire department’s insurance premiums; those premiums represent nearly all of the department’s normal operating budget, basically eliminating any chances to purchase safety equipment or maintain our buildings and vehicles without spending the insurance payout received from our lost fire station (the intended use of which was to rebuild the Greenville fire station and not to pay for operations).

  IVCSD – and by extension its residents and ratepayers – have been colossally failed and in some cases misled by local, state, and federal officials.

Plumas County, its board of supervisors, and its district attorney, have not taken any action to provide direct support for the district and its critical infrastructure when they have been in the position to do so. A few months ago when the board of supervisors was considering the re-allocation of unused American Rescue Plan funds, IVCSD’s request for funding towards its $2.3 million pipeline replacement project was ignored.

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  Although the district attorney successfully secured a $17.5 million criminal settlement against PG&E, IVCSD has not been the recipient of any direct aid from the county other than $45,000 which was an amount evenly distributed to all 19 fire departments in the county. Nothing else was received from that settlement for critical infrastructure.

  Greenville’s state representatives – Assemblywoman Dahle and Senator Dahle – are perhaps the most at fault (after PG&E) for the district’s current situation. In a year with a historic $90 billion (billion with a “b”) state revenue surplus, they failed to secure a single cent of assistance even as the district had been working with their offices for over eight months throughout the state budget process. For reference, Paradise received over $14 million in financial relief from the state after the Camp Fire.

U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa’s office has provided valuable support to the district throughout the gargantuan task of dealing with FEMA and we are grateful for that. But that does not make up for the fact that IVCSD wasn’t even included in his list of proposed earmarks, which just recently made a comeback in the federal budget.

  And of course there’s the entity entirely responsible for this mess we’re in: PG&E. IVCSD’s lawsuit against PG&E has gone nowhere to date. Almost a year after the disaster PG&E’s legal team has yet to even begin scheduling meetings with the district’s legal team to discuss our claims. Our pleas for immediate assistance have fallen on deaf ears. With our financial operating capacity now being measured in months, the district may not be around to benefit from any settlement.

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  Indian Valley Community Services District is sharing this with the community not to point fingers but to explain clearly how we have been failed at all levels of government and to prepare the community for drastic cuts to service.

  Without a fire department, property insurance that is already sky-high will become completely unaffordable even through the FAIR Plan.

Without sewer or water service, homes and businesses cannot be rebuilt.

  This is the reality we are living with.

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  While we continue to work with the extremely knowledgeable group at the Dixie Fire Collaborative to search and apply for grants to rebuild our infrastructure there are simply no funding sources available to us for operations; we are spending more money each month than we’re bringing in. That’s why we were relying on our elected representatives to come through for us and make specific appropriations for our community until our customer base can rebuild.

  The choice we face now is reducing our staffing to the point that we can financially survive but have no manpower to fix the daily leaks and sewage issues we have, or continue our staffing until we simply have no more money.

  In the case the district becomes unable to operate, Plumas County will effectively absorb our systems and become responsible for any remaining operations.

  To our local, state, and federal elected officials we say: the ball is in your court.

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  To our residents, ratepayers, and supporters who want to see Greenville rebuilt and thrive: tell your elected officials what you want. They’re having a hard time hearing you.

Respectfully,
Board of Directors