Plans purchase of new equipment for water plant


In a special meeting of the Idyllwild Water District Monday morning, the board unanimously approved a new memorandum of understanding with the Idyllwild Arts Foundation. The agreement deals with water connection fees and replaces a 2013 MOU.

Four years ago, the school paid the district $150,000 in advance for water fees. As of today, about $123,000 remains. IWD is returning this money to Idyllwild Arts because the recently approved water rules and regulations emphasize the size of the customer’s water meter. In the future, if the school requires a larger meter, it will “pay the then prevailing water facilities connection fees …,” according to the board.

The board also easily approved General Manager Jack Hoagland’s recommendation to purchase two new pumps for the wastewater treatment plant. The total cost, including installation, will be about $43,000.

The district has two pumps, one of which is broken. Both have needed extensive repair over their lifetime, according to Hoagland. The new pumps will chop “non-organic” material, which gets into the sewer system and damages the current pumps.

“We need to do something,” he urged the board. “The new pumps will be less maintenance and last longer between rebuild.”

Director Steve Kunkle concurred that the new pump would work better and be less of a problem. “I think it is needed,” he added.

However, the third item, a request to approve a job description and salary range for a field operations supervisor, failed for lack of motion. For several years, the district has sought a chief sewer operator without success. Consequently, it has had to contract for part-time oversight from the California Rural Water Association. This has cost the district about $12,000 monthly.

Using a recruit firm, Hoagland found a candidate he wished to hire for about $85,000 annually. The job description gave the person full management authority for the waste-water system and oversight of the water distribution system.

Several directors raised questions about the long-term success of the arrangement. After taking some time to consider the proposal, none of the directors (Peter Szabadi was absent) offered a motion to accept Hoagland’s recommendation.

During the closed session, Director Vic Sirkin submitted his resignation to President Dr. Charles Schelly. He resigned for health reasons and stressed that it was unrelated to his letter addressing recent board decisions (see story at left). He is confident his former colleagues will address these issues and wishes he could participate, but does not believe it would be beneficial for his current health conditions.