Idyllwild Water reduces meeting pay: Exploring new legal representation

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The Idyllwild Water District Board of Directors unanimously reversed a three-year-old policy and reduced its stipend for attending meetings. As of the last meeting of 2016, the board has returned to the previous amount of $50 per meeting and a maximum of $50 per day.

In 2013, the previous board had given themselves a raise of $50 to $100 per meeting.

The only issue among the board members was whether they would be required to accept the stipend (and then donate it to a local charity or otherwise) or whether they could simply decline payment. Ultimately, to make bookkeeping easier, they agreed to accept the checks.

“If we accept and donate to a charity, it’s a way the water district can help others,” commented President Dr. Charles Schelly. Director June Rockwell suggested that some of the donations might be used for customers who have difficulty paying their bills.

Also pursuant to Director Steve Kunkle’s request, these payments will be identified in the monthly warrants report.

Several members of the audience — Sue Nash, Tom Paulek and Jeff Smith — indicated their preference that the board retain the $100 level.

However, Steve Moulton, a customer, supported the decrease. He noted that when the board increased the sewer fees, and several members were not connected to the district’s sewer, they rewarded themselves with this raise.

“It didn’t seem right to me,” he noted. “No other board [on the Hill] earns $100 per meeting. Love to see you go to $50; you’ll be doing something for the district.”

Members also unanimously adopted Rosenberg’s Rules of Order to use for the conduct of its meetings, such as a definition of a quorum and procedures for motions and votes.

In other action affecting the board, it decided to defer selecting its representative to the Joint Powers Insurance Agency of the Association of California Water Agencies. The choice will be made at its next regular meeting in January.

The Legal Counsel Committee, composed of directors Vic Sirkin and Rockwell, reported that they had interviewed two potential firms — Brad Neufeld of Varner & Brandt and Best Best and Krieger, both located in Riverside.

Either would cost more than the current counsel Akulfi and Wysocki of Redlands, a firm tarnished by corruption charges.

The committee will explore issues of conflict before making a recommendation. BB&K also represents Fern Valley Water District, and Neufeld is counsel for Pine Cove Water District and the Idyllwild Fire Protection District.

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