With no new business and old business limited to financial and operational status, the July 15 meeting of the Idyllwild Water District directors should have been concluded quickly. However, General Manager Tom Lynch and board candidate Steve Kunkle had an extended discussion on how Kunkle could get an item added to the board’s agenda.
President Jim Billman reminded Kunkle he could always speak during the “Public Comment” period of the meeting. But Kunkle replied that board members do not have to reply to those public statements and he wanted to hear the board’s opinion on several issues.
Lynch said only he or a majority of the board could assure an item was on the agenda for discussion. However, the Brown Act, California’s open government law, authorizes a board member to direct staff to add an item, which may be raised during public comment, to a future agenda.
But another board candidate, June Rockwell, pointed out the following statement at the bottom of the IWD agenda: “If you would like to be placed on the agenda, please call the office 96 hours in advance of the meeting.”
Lynch said after the meeting he would discuss that sentence with the district’s legal counsel. Director John Cook opined that 96 hours was insufficient for the IWD staff to research and prepare a report about these public requests.
But this was not simply a back-and-forth between two challengers in the upcoming August election and the current board. Marge Muir, a Pine Cove resident, but Idyllwild property owner and realtor, also took objection to the board’s indifference to public comment.
“There’s a right to request an agenda item because you don’t have to answer during ‘Public comment,’” she reminded the board. “You work for the public and the public has a right to submit a request.”
In other business, Cook had previously announced that he had spoken to Lynch about developing business plans, not only for the water and sewer districts, but also to oversee the anticipated recycling project.
Finance Officer Hosny Shouman reported that the district’s water revenues for June were nearly $113,000. The total water revenues for 2014-15 were nearly $1.25 million, more than $300,000 greater than what the district projected a year ago and nearly $250,000 more than the $978,000 projection for the current year.
“It was a very good month for sales,” Shouman told the board. Much of the increased water usage is at Idyllwild Arts.
In water business, Lynch reported, “We remain in Stage 2. We’ve been very fortunate with the weather patterns.”
Although Foster Lake remains dry, the May storms and the addition of the horizontal wells above the lake have helped the groundwater levels of the district’s wells, he added.