Water districts’ new JPA holds first meeting

The newly formed North County Joint Powers Authority (JPA), designed to smooth the way towards consolidation of Rainbow Municipal Water District (RMWD) and Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD), held its first official board meeting March 6 at FPUD headquarters.

“This is a monumental milestone for both organizations,” said Don McDougal, an FPUD director now seated on the JPA board. “After a year of work, we have formed a JPA between Rainbow and Fallbrook Public Utility District.” Those selected for the JPA governing seats by their respective boards included McDougal, Milt Davies, Al Gebhart, Dennis Sanford, Bob Lucy and Helene Brazier.

After a public comment opportunity was offered, which no one responded to, the next order of business was to elect board officers.

By unanimous vote, Dennis Sanford was elected chairman, Don McDougal, vice chairman; and Al Gebhart, secretary.

In appointing a treasurer/auditor, FPUD general manager Brian Brady interjected that that position is not required to be held by a board member, thus a discussion ensued pertaining to those currently holding related positions in the districts.

It was determined by vote that Gene Buckley of RMWD would serve as treasurer/auditor for the JPA, with Marcie Ehlers of FPUD assisting.

An undercurrent of contentiousness didn’t surface until discussion about the appointment of an interim executive director for the JPA. While some board members said, “it’s already been done,” indicating that Brady had been selected, Brazier asked to make a public statement.

“I object to the manner in which he was selected,” said Brazier. “This is nothing personal, but it was done behind closed doors. There was no public knowledge of how this decision was made.”

Brazier cautioned other board members that she considered it “an inauspicious beginning” and said she hoped “the openness of process will be the order of the day.”

Dave Seymour, general manager of RMWD, reminded the board “this is an interim appointment.”

The board then moved on the adoption of bylaws, indicating changes may be made down the road.

“These bylaws are new to all of us and will undoubtedly change as we grow,” said Lucy. “I personally am very excited about this.”

In discussing the selection process for a public member to be seated on the board of directors, the consensus was to open up the opportunity to members of the greater community – Fallbrook, Bonsall, Rainbow, and DeLuz.

Davies suggested putting a notice in the Village News, and another suggested placing a notice in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“This way people can submit their information, a brief resume, then perhaps a committee from the board can review them and bring some recommendations back to a future meeting,” said Davies.

Brazier said, “I would prefer that the entire board review the applicants.”

Gebhart suggested a 30-day period for application submission would be most “reasonable” to allow applicants adequate time to respond. Fellow board members agreed. A directive was given to place the appropriate notices.

In discussion about which legal counsel would be retained by the new JPA board, it was recommended that interim counsel be appointed followed by the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. It was agreed that the RFP process would open up the opportunity for any general counsels to reply that would be interested.

The board voted to retain RMWD’s counsel, Greg Moser, in the interim capacity. FPUD counsel, Bob James, said, “I think independent counsel would be a good thing to consider in the future, in order to quiet some of the contentious undercurrents (in consolidating the two districts).”

The meeting went on as the board attended to what some referred to as “housekeeping” items, including establishing regular days and times for future meetings.

It was decided that the North County JPA will regularly meet on Wednesdays (after the FPUD and RMWD meetings) at 2:30 p.m. at Fallbrook Public Utility District at least for the first two months, and more often as needed.

3 Responses to "Water districts’ new JPA holds first meeting"

  1. oldtimer   March 14, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I found the description of the initial JPA meeting odd. Does the existence of differing opinions constitute “an undercurrent of contentiousness” in the view of the writer of the article?…those words appear to be borrowed from what Bob James’ said later in the meeting… Or is it just the opinions of that one board member? The first portion of her comments should not have been enclosed in quotation marks, by the way, since what was written was a summary abbreviated version of what was actually said.

    Both general managers have stated the JPA’s goals a little bit differently from what the writer indicated. They have said that the JPA will show how well the two districts can work together to meet mutual needs, how much money can be saved, and whether a possible consolidation is the way to go. These two member agencies of the JPA are going to have differences in the normal course of things. They are different entities with different concerns. Any successful partnership needs candor and thorough talking out of what is in the best interests of both districts. Doesn’t a productive working relationship require the ability of those on all sides of an issue to state their positions forthrightly without being considered contentious? Or is a rubber stamp board the only acceptable option?

    I was at that meeting and found it conducted in a businesslike, civil manner. Aside from the Executive Director matter, all voting items passed on unanimous votes. There were no raised voices or snide comments, and courtesy ruled. 23 agenda items were dispatched in just an hour. Casting this as anything but a normal business meeting does a disservice to the professional conduct of all concerned.

    And the meeting was adjourned to 2:30 PM Wednesday March 20, at RMWD.

  2. Me   March 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Just lower the rates. We’re stuck paying the highest base rate in the county.

  3. You   March 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Rates aren’t going down. Never. This JPA and all the cost saved from eliminating employees will be gobbled up in a single year of MET water rate increases. We will be right back at square one next year, trying to find another thirty positions to eliminate so we don’t have to pass the MET rate increases onto the customers. And the next year… And so on… And so on…


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