Rainbow Municipal Water District to discuss proposed JPA with Fallbrook Public Utility District this afternoon

This afternoon the Rainbow Municipal Water District board will take the first step on a proposed joint powers agency involving Rainbow and the Fallbrook Public Utility District.

“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for both districts to save money,” said Rainbow general manager Dave Seymour.

The Rainbow board will make comments on the draft of the proposed joint powers agreement; the comments will be incorporated by water district staff as the agreement is refined. FPUD’s board is scheduled to meet January 28 and will likely make similar comments. The agreement would be effective when both boards approve the final implementation language, which could occur as early as February.

Seymour, FPUD general manager Brian Brady, and the legal counsel for the two districts have been developing the draft agreement. “We’re still working on it,” Seymour said.

Rainbow and FPUD have been discussing consolidation. A joint powers agency would allow for functional consolidation, which could either be an interim step towards jurisdictional consolidation or an alternative which would allow each district to keep its own governing board. “It will achieve the same level of cost savings,” Seymour said of functional consolidation.

“I think most of the players involved still think that in the long term consolidation’s probably best for both districts, but that’s a long process,” Seymour said.

The joint powers agreement will enable the districts and their voters to determine whether jurisdictional consolidation would be a suitable permanent option. “It will see how well we work together,” Seymour said.

Another advantage to a joint powers agency is the ability to add member agencies which cannot be consolidated. In addition to the San Diego County Water Authority and the multi-county Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, there is already one JPA for water in San Diego County. The Sweetwater Authority consists of the South Bay Irrigation District and the National City water department, which as a city department cannot be consolidated with another water agency.

Although no formal discussions have involved the eventual addition of the City of Oceanside’s water department to the Rainbow/FPUD joint powers agency, such an addition would allow for coordination of San Luis Rey River and sewer outfall issues, and Oceanside’s Weese Water Treatment Plant is located in Bonsall within the Rainbow district’s boundaries.

“One of the things that’s written into the agreement is that other entities can join the JPA,” Seymour said. “We’re not an exclusive club.”

Rainbow and FPUD will likely create the JPA and begin functional consolidation before inviting Oceanside to consider participation. “We haven’t gotten that far yet,” Seymour said.

Each member agency would appoint an equal number of directors, and a community member at large would be appointed to create an odd number of JPA board members. Since the at-large member would be appointed by a majority of the other board members, approval from at least one member of each district would be required. “You find a member who’s got an interest in both districts,” Seymour said.

That could include an at-large member who lives in one district but owns a business or property in the other district.

The length of board and officer terms is not stipulated in the draft document, nor is the minimum frequency of meetings. A minimum frequency does not constrain the board to meeting only at that stipulated time; the board itself will decide the actual frequency of meetings. “The board will probably meet monthly for the first several months,” Seymour said, adding that once various implementation issues have been completed the frequency may be reduced to quarterly.

Both Rainbow and FPUD have found afternoon board meetings to be more preferable to evening meetings; FPUD’s current 4:00 p.m. starting time was a change from the previous 6:00 call to order while Rainbow experimented with evening meetings before returning to daytime sessions and now has a 1:00 p.m. start. The time of the JPA meetings would also be determined by the board.

The board is also authorized to form committees, although one option in the draft agreement would specify the creation of an executive committee and a technical advisory committee.

FPUD has previously been involved in two jurisdictional consolidations: the district joined with the DeLuz Heights Municipal Water District in 1990 and with the Fallbrook Sanitary District in 1994. The merger between FPUD and the Fallbrook Sanitary District merged one district whose employees had Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday and one district which did not give that day off to non-emergency staff, and the retention of both previous employee agreements gave some but not all consolidated agency staff members that holiday. Seymour noted that the JPA would keep employee memorandums of understanding for each member agency in place.

Seymour added that employee associations of each district could voluntarily agree to similar provisions. “There’s nothing that would keep us from trying to renegotiate,” he said. “It would require reopening the contracts.”

Seymour noted that such employee provision inconsistency is one disadvantage to functional consolidation. “That’s one of the problems with the JPA,” he said. “It doesn’t provide the perfect consistency between the agencies.”

The functional consolidation would allow for shared management. “That’s where we’re trying to achieve the majority of the cost savings,” Seymour said.

While employee consolidation would not be at the expense of service, other functions such as information technology could also be shared. “That’s a perfect example. Neither one of us has a need for a full-time IT person,” Seymour

said. “This would allow us to consolidate in that area, probably get better service and lower our cost at the same time.”

Rainbow and FPUD already have a mutual aid agreement, but a JPA can also allow for sharing of other specialty employees.

The stated purpose of the agreement in its current form is to create the North County Water Utility Joint Powers Authority (which might simply be called the North County Joint Powers Authority) and to provide for the administration of the member agencies, although the draft agreement itself includes a blank for stating other purposes. The draft 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.

The draft provisions allow for withdrawal of a member agency as well as termination of the JPA by mutual agreement.

12 Responses to "Rainbow Municipal Water District to discuss proposed JPA with Fallbrook Public Utility District this afternoon"

  1. Please No   January 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    The Rainbow Water District has been poorly ran for years and now FPUD customers are going to foot the bill to pay for their aging infrastructure – please keep these fools out of our pockets and let the Rainbow customers pay for their own mess.

  2. JOHN BROWN   January 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm


  3. 3 year home owner in Fallbrook.   January 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I third that! "No" on Rainbow. Not that anyone is going to change there minds.

  4. Rainbow customer   January 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

    How is it the customers faults? I hate RBW…our bill is outrageous.

  5. Mark Robak   January 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    This all seems a very tepid way of saving money. While it is acknowledged that "most of the players involved still think that in the long term consolidation’s probably best for both districts", I would suggest that that tough decision be made now, rather than kicking the can down the road.

    Either way, hats off to everyone involved as more water districts should be considering something like this.

  6. Pink   January 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

    The merger in inevitable. Lets all hope it will be for the best. It will be interesting to see how they consolidate both boards. I know people on both RMWD and on FPUD boards, most (not all) of them know what they are doing. Lets hope we get the best of both worlds.

  7. Lee   January 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    This situation to me seems great on paper . . . but fishy in reality. (And that’s putting it mildly!)

    Fellow Fallbrookers, raise your hand if you believe that AFTER this merger, our water rates will go down? OK, like I thought, most of you didn’t raise your hand (me included), but a few of you actually did. 🙂 OK, no problem. Let me rephrase that question, then: how many of you believe that the rates may go down after the merger . . . but, say, within no more than one year will go back up again?

    Ah ha, I knew it, ALL of you raised your hands, me included! 🙂 Folks, does anyone of us TRULY believe that this merger will save us money? Sure, I’d like to believe so, but the reality of the situation and the reason why the rates will NOT go down is a very simple one that we are ALL familiar with: good ol’ job security.

    Do you TRULY believe that the board members of either district will leave their job virtuously for the good of humanity, ah in this case also known as good ol’ Fallbrook, so that you and I will save money? You TRULY believe that? Raise your hand if you do. I ain’t. The whole reason why this transition is taking so long at all is because the board members of both districts suddenly realized . . . that with a merger, gee whiz, there may not be a need for so many board members!

    Gee, no horse doo-doo! Ya think?

    The whole problem with these silly not to mention stupid water districts is the fact that additional "middle men" exist in the simple process of you and I getting water into our homes. (This shouldn’t be that complicated, folks.) And it is these "middle men", i.e., water districts, that drive up the price of water! Hello! And so now when they are actually considering a consolidation, or merger in plain English, they are realizing that they are potentially and most likely hurting themselves and their job security.

    Thus the delay and head scratching on their part . . . while you and I shell out dollars and dollars and dollars . . . to cover their salaries and benefits. Hello!

    Can somebody once and for all explain to me (A) WHY we need all of these water districts, and perhaps more importantly, why on earth does a rinky-dinky water district need a . . . board?

    Get real, folks! What an utter joke to have all these districts, aka "middle men" who do nothing but drive up our prices of water by their mere existence, and all these silly board members! (Or is that bored members?) OK, if a Fortune 500 company has a board, fine, I guess I get it. But a rinky-dinky water board . . . in Fallbrook? What a joke! And, of course, as soon as I mention that a water district could be EASILY run by, say, one or two people, folks will immediately accuse me of the ‘S’: socialism.

    Nothing could be further from the truth! This isn’t a socialist or anything else matter; this is a good ol’ common sense matter: a water district today in the 21st century need not be run by a wasteful board but by a few or even one individual who (and whose actions) IS OVERSEEN BY THE PEOPLE WHO TELL HIM/HER/FEW OF THEM WHAT TO DO VIA OPEN AND TRANSPARENT COMMUNICATION THEREBY SAVING YOU AND I PRECIOUS MONEY! Hello!

    Isn’t that called democracy? I certainly think so. I would call that TRUE democracy: you and I telling an entity, in this case a water district, what to do and how to run it. And no, you wouldn’t get anarchy . . . as the folks at the top, i.e., the politicians or in this case, the current water district board members, would love to scare the dickens out of you and I into believing. Cool? You and I are not stupid nor anarchic! Are we? Of course not. All you and I want is true democracy and a little bit of common sense all in an effort to save us money. That’s all.

    So, will these two districts adopt this paradigm? Of course not. Sure there may be some superficial downsizing to appeal to public opinion . . . somewhat. But the fundamental paradigm will not change. And you and I will continue to pay out of our rear-end . . . and continue to complain about high water prices for many years to come.

    Oh well.

  8. Lee   January 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    One more thing.

    Folks, be honest. Utter the following words out loud, please: water district & board.

    Aren’t you laughing? I sure is. Why on earth does a . . . water district need a . . . board?

    I know, I know, I’m laughing, too.

  9. me   January 28, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Laugh all you want, how many of you give a rats ear about going to meetings, you get what you deserve, you are so ill informed it’s pathetic, how many of you have read the joint powers agreement which FPUD has already filled out, but try to get a copy from them and convince me this will save money. RMWD won’t fill out the agreement without the Brady Bunch there to stiffen their spines, because they wouldn’t know how to answer questions from their own rate-payers.

  10. oldtimer   January 29, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Do I understand correctly from this interview that Rainbow’s GM would like to consider adding Oceanside to the group down the road? Forgive me, but directors of both FPUD (December 10 meeting minutes), and RMWD (January 22 meeting minutes) have expressed doubts that the proposed JPA would save money. Why add another agency and still not be financially better off? Or is there another reason for this grandiose plan?

    To Please No: I agree with your bottom line, but not the reasoning that got you there. Do you know anything about RMWD and its operations of the past 5 or 6 years? It has been well managed and accomplished a great deal. It can stand alone. It will be serving the new development east of Old Highway 395 and North of SR76. New customers will help share the costs of running the district. Rates won’t go down, but they won’t go up as fast.

    To Lee: Water rates are not going down, no matter what the organizational form of either district or both. The cost of water is controlled by MWD and SDCWA, and it has more than tripled within recent memory. No matter how efficient either district is, they have no choice but to buy water. We are a semi-desert. When the seller charges more and more, we can either pay or go dry. YOU VOTE FOR THE BOARD MEMBERS. They are supposed to represent your interests. They set the policies of the district. And they hire the General Manager. If you don’t like what they are doing, vote them out. That’s democracy. JPA would add another layer of board members. How that saves money is a good question.

    To Rainbow customer: I feel your pain. I pay the same rates. Recent boards have had to spend millions complying with state and federal laws. Previous boards kept ratepayer charges artificially low by neglecting infrastructure and ignoring laws. They kept rates low, RMWD ate the loss, and infrastructure suffered. Then the chickens came home to roost and the reservoirs had to be covered.

  11. Lee   January 30, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Oldtimer, I truly want to thank you for enlightening me. I really do. I had NO idea about any of the things you mentioned. For example, I thought that, here in SoCal, we live in an arctic region and not a semi-desert. Now I know.

  12. buck   February 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    anyone out there know how this affects well water?


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