Fern Valley Water District (FVWD) Director Trischa Clark resigned effective Aug. 21 because she sold her home in the district. She was not present for the meeting. The now four-person board will decide how to move forward with the vacancy — by special election or appointment.
Additionally, the board approved the agenda item in a 3-1 vote for General Manager Victor Jimenez to move forward with the purchase of a vehicle for newly promoted Assistant General Manager Jessica Priefer. The general manager and standby field operator — due to 24-hour on-call status — are allowed to use district vehicles to drive to and from work and keep them at home except during periods of vacation and extended leave, according to the district’s policy. The policy also states that the privilege is dependent upon the availability of vehicles and can be used outside of normal work hours and on-call duties for activities which are to the benefit of the district. Both are at the sole discretion of the general manager. The policy has not been rewritten to include the assistant general manager position, but the promotion requires Priefer to be on standby for emergencies.
James Reese voted against the purchase of the vehicle saying “When I did vote for Jessica [Priefer] getting the assistant general manager [position], I was not aware nor was I informed of just how much this was going to cost the district. This just keeps adding and adding and adding.”
Jimenez found a vehicle for $55,000 including tax and equipped with a tow package. Jimenez will be installing the safety lights himself. A quote on insurance from AAA for Priefer’s personal vehicle (for her as the only driver) is about $2,200 more per year than the 2016 F250 service trucks currently insured by the district. Adding a commercial rider to her existing personal insurance policy was not an option, according to the staff report. “A new $60,000 vehicle, which if used only up to 102,000 miles, would last 17 years with the projected mileage of 6,000 per year. At that point, the district could decide to continue to use it or trade it in for a new vehicle, reducing the total cost even more,” the staff report states.
The district budgeted $2.8 million in expenses for FY 2019/20 but only spent $2.5 million.
Jimenez told the board that he sent the memorandum of understanding (MOU) from the Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) for the emergency siren alert system to the district’s attorney Ward Simmons of Best Best & Krieger. The district will contribute $12,000 to the siren project. It allocated $30,000 in its FY 2020/21 budget. The MOU will be brought to the board once Simmons gives Jimenez feedback and it is finalized with IFPD. The firm, in a recent letter to the district, wrote that it will not be increasing its fees due to the economic strains of COVID-19.
The board approved the purchase of a two-post lift in a 3-1 vote. Reese also voted against this purchase. According to Jimenez, the two-post lift was previously approved by the planning committee, Reese and Clark. There was some debate over this item because the district previously purchased a four-post lift for safety reasons because of the inexperience of the then-existing staff. Jimenez made the argument that the district now has two experienced mechanics to train the rest of the staff in the safe operation of the two-post lift. The two-post lift is necessary to do tire rotations and suspension work in-house. The purchase of $4,783.35 is included in the FY 2020/21 budget.
Jimenez brought up the recent leaks that resulted from the installation of the pressure reducing stations that the newspaper reported on last week (Aug. 20). “Due to very low demand and lack of pressure relief valves, we suffered some water hammering while dialing the stations which resulted in approximately 20 leaks on several streets near the top of the system,” Jimenez wrote in his monthly general manager’s report. “Upon repairing those leaks, we discovered that these lines had very minor leaks for some time. The amount of root growth around the mains indicated that there had been leaking water there for some time. We now realize that we have a need to install pressure relief valves throughout the system.”