The only action taken at a Feb. 12 workshop involving the boards of the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District was to recommend changes on the draft documents which will be used to create a joint powers agency for the two districts, but the general managers of both FPUD and Rainbow believe that the workshop was a step forward for the creation of the joint powers agency.
“I think it proved to be very useful,” said FPUD general manager Brian Brady.
“I thought it was productive. It accomplished what the intent was,” said Rainbow general manager Dave Seymour.
The intent was to agree on the language of three documents related to the joint powers agency agreement so that the two agencies’ respective boards can take a vote whether or not to approve those documents. Seymour, Brady, and the legal counsel for the two districts have been developing the draft agreements, which were taken to the two boards during their January meetings for comment.
In January, the fourth Tuesday occurred prior to the fourth Monday, so Rainbow’s board addressed the document first on Jan. 22. The Rainbow board members felt that they couldn’t dedicate enough time to the document at that meeting and requested a board workshop. FPUD’s board agreed to the workshop on Jan. 28, and FPUD also allowed the use of its board room for the Feb. 12 workshop. The joint workshop also allowed for public input at a single meeting.
Approximately 25 members of the public attended the workshop; approximately half of those were employees of one of the districts while the other half attended as ratepayers. “There were some very good comments both from the public and from the employees,” Seymour said. “We took all of that into consideration.”
A leasing agreement for employees was one of the three documents discussed; the other two were the document creating the joint powers agency and the bylaws of the JPA.
“It was very useful for the two boards to be able to talk to each other and really go over all three of the proposed documents,” Brady said. “They made several changes to the draft document based on their discussions.”
Some of the changes included quantifying or otherwise defining items which had been left blank in the original drafts. The document to create the entity will also create the name of the joint powers agency. What some references had called the North County Water Utility Joint Powers Authority will now be the North County Joint Powers Authority.
The length of board member and officer terms was not stipulated in the original draft document, and the workshop chose two-year terms for the directors and officers. Each member agency will appoint an equal number of directors, and a community member at large will be appointed to create an odd number of JPA board members. The workshop determined that each agency would provide three of its board members to the North County Joint Powers Authority, and those members will appoint the at-large director.
The process for selecting the at-large director will be decided by the joint powers agency board and does not need to be addressed in formation documents. “That’s still an open issue,” Brady said.
Under the Brown Act, a noticed public meeting is necessary for a majority of a public agency’s board members to be present together where agency business is discussed. Because the North County Joint Powers Authority meetings will be noticed public meetings, a majority of members from a participating board may be present. That will also allow the joint powers agency to address some business items currently handled individually by each member agency, although the individual water agencies will continue to approve their individual budgets. “The JPA board can’t unilaterally develop a budget,” Brady said. “There will be significant checks and balances.”
The document creating the North County Joint Powers Authority allows for other agencies to join the joint powers agency in the future and also allows for withdrawal of a member agency as well as termination of the JPA by mutual agreement.
The tentative formation agreement authorizes general powers to accomplish the purposes of the agreement. Specific powers include entering into contracts, employing agents, maintaining or operating building or infrastructure facilities as well as constructing or acquiring such facilities or leasing them, acquiring and disposing of property, incurring debts or other liabilities which do not constitute a debt or obligation to a member agency, accepting grants or other contributions and applying for grants, setting compensation amounts including consultant or legal fees and any per diem pay for board members, prescribing the duties and adopting day-to-day conduct rules for employees and other agents, filing lawsuits, investing funds, and enforcing the agreement provisions.
“We’re going through and making revisions to the three documents based on what we heard,” Brady said.
Seymour, Brady, and the legal personnel hope to have the revised documents ready for FPUD and Rainbow board consideration later this month. FPUD’s next regular board meeting will take place Feb. 25 while the next regular Rainbow board meeting will occur Feb. 26.
“We’ll hopefully be taking it to the February board meeting,” Seymour said. “It will be March at the latest, but hopefully we can make the February deadline.”