Idyllwild Water board finds some areas to agree

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The Idyllwild Water District board met Wednesday evening and finished the meeting before adjourning, even taking some actions. Two vacant board seats were not sufficient to prevent the three current directors from transacting some business, although many items were deferred or tabled until the regular December meeting.

The hiring of an interim general manager was one item that may occur before that meeting. The three directors requested Hosny Shouman, chief financial officer, to advertise for an interim or part-time general manager. Next they agreed to a special meeting on Dec. 9 to interview possible candidates.

Shouman has been collecting general manager applications and said already three people have expressed interest in the interim position.

The Dec. 9 date was acceptable to directors Steve Kunkle and June Rockwell because they hope 3rd District Supv. Chuck Washington will have appointed two people to fill the board vacancies. Therefore, a full board could make the selection.

The other issue, to which the three could concur, was a request from a customer whose property was disturbed because of a pipeline leak. The plans for new pipeline in the area would also affect the same property, so the board had Shouman contact the individual to negotiate an agreement. The customer wanted an explanation of the time frame and agreement to repair the driveway surface after work was done.

Four other items were deferred for future meetings, at which Kunkle and Rockwell hope there will be five directors present. The first was authorizing Shouman to hire engineering and wastewater employees.

Cook felt that the work and reports were more technical and outside Shouman’s bailiwick, and recommended hiring the new staff.

“We don’t have a GM and need to keep things moving,” he argued. “We need to keep the well rehabilitation moving so let’s hire an engineer.”

Rockwell expressed disagreement that it had to be done in the next few weeks. Cook failed to mention that the grant for the work had been approved in the summer of 2015 and the district has yet to take any action. Waiting until a full board was able to address the issue would not be critical, she countered.

Kunkle agreed with Cook, but Cook at the last meeting argued that a majority of a quorum was insufficient to make decisions. His opinion is that unanimity on actions was necessary. As a result, the 2-1 vote prevented the hiring of part-time help.

The other three agenda items — negotiating a new mutual-aid agreement with Fern Valley and Pine Cove water districts, hiring a recruiting consultant, and deciding on bids for the pipeline replacement project — were all deferred.

For the first four months of fiscal 2016-17, IWD’s production has been 68.9 million gallons, which is nearly 6 million or 10 percent greater than in 2015.

One result was water sales revenues were 15 percent higher this month than in October 2015.

The 2015-16 audit report was presented to the board. Scott Manno of Rogers, Anderson, Malody & Scott of San Bernardino presented the completed audit. “We issued an unmodified opinion, which is the highest we can express,” he said.

The district’s financial condition has been improving for the past four to five years, according to Manno. “With infrastructure yet to be replaced, you can decide between debt or annual revenue.”

At the end of the last fiscal year, IWD had more than $3 million cash available, although a portion, less than 15 percent, is restricted. IWD has no long-term debt.

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