The Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD) and Rainbow Municipal Water District (RMWD) are currently making strides in the initial stages of consolidation between the two water districts, designed to provide the districts’ customers service at a less expensive rate.
Talks of mergers began in early 2012, with meetings between the districts continuing periodically.
According to Dave Seymour, general manager for RMWD, the consolidation study is still in the process.
“Originally we thought we could wrap it up in six to twelve months, but it looks more like 18 months to two years,” said Seymour. “San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) suggested in our community forum that their portion of the process could take up to a year alone – hence the delay.”
However, Seymour stated the savings for customers would be worth the wait.
“If consolidation does go through the cost savings will be well worth the delay,” he said. “As an interim step, Brian Brady and I both suggested to our boards that we consider forming a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) that would allow some of the savings of consolidation to be realized immediately while we work on the consolidation process.”
Seymour stated that he presented JPA options to the RMWD board on Nov. 20 and that Brady presented the same to his board on the Nov. 21.
“It is still very preliminary, but the proposal is to create a JPA and have it become the management and administrative branch for both districts,” said Seymour. “Executive management from FPUD and RMWD would be reassigned to the JPA and as those employees leave through attrition they might not need to be replaced. For example, when I retire in a few months the JPA obviously wouldn’t need two general managers so my salary and benefits would be a substantial savings.”
According to Brady, the two water district boards are giving themselves sufficient time to reach consensus.
“In my experience, the initial stages of a consolidation process take the most time. Ongoing public outreach and input, of course, are essential,” he said. “There needs be a collective meeting of the minds by the two boards on such major issues as governance, operating philosophies, and employee concerns.”
Once the JPA is put into place, it would provide an opportunity to see how the two districts work together prior to implementing full consolidation, said Seymour.
“If things move along as we think they should, we could have the JPA in place as early as February next year,” said Seymour.