New Lebec Water Board Calls Special Meeting for Thursday, Studies New Management Company

UPDATE—LEBEC, CA (Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011 at 9:35 p.m.)—The special meeting of the Lebec County Water District Board this evening was devoted principally to studying the APT Water Services contract. The board members asked questions of APT manager Charles Grace and discussed issues among themselves and with members of the public who attended.

Thomas Kermode asked Grace if APT would agree to extend the 60 day trial period. Grace said "No, we won’t consider doing that." Bob Karr asked whether the district could afford APT. Grace repled that he believed he has demonstrated that they can afford APT and that they will end with a surplus, under the terms of the contract.

Board President Del Clowes offered an opinion that it seems to him that it would be wise to maintain the APT contract. He emphasized that is his opinion only. He said that the matter would be discussed further. No votes on action were taken by the board.

LEBEC, CA (Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.)—The newly installed Lebec County Water District Board of Directors has called a special meeting for Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., just three days after its regularly scheduled meeting. The main item on the agenda is the review of the  the APT Water Services Contract. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the district office at 401 Frazier Mountain Park Road, Lebec 93243. The public is encouraged to attend.

Last month the outgoing board signed a 5-year contract with APT Water Services. The company provides the D-3 water operator credentials required by the state, to maintain the distribution system in a safe and legal fashion. New state laws have created strict guidelines for districts which have mineral contaminants such as fluoride and uranium that appear over the limits set by the state. LCWD has these problems.

The new LCWD board members attended their first meeting on Monday, Dec. 5. Because these two meetings were scheduled back to back, the board members’ stipend will be a $1,000 additional expense to the cash-strapped district this month. Last month its income was $35,000 and its expenditures were $55,000. There are 5 members on the board, and unless they waive their stipend, they are paid $100 each per meeting

The special meeting is raising an alarm among those who have been watching the board this year, as it appears the new board members are preparing to take action on a major issue before they have an opportunity to thoroughly learn about the state law and regulations that govern the district.

The new board has already come under scrutiny because of their actions in seeking a secret meeting to take their oath of office three days before the regularly scheduled swearing-in event. Lack of knowledge—or deliberate avoidance—of state laws surrounding public boards has raised red flags.The Kern County Grand Jury is said to be investigating the LCWD. Members of the grand jury were at the December 5 meeting.

"The action contemplated is to familiarize everybody with [the contract]," LCWD’s new president said in a brief telephone interview on Wednesday. "I haven’t studied it and that seems to be the case with others [on the board]," Delbert Clowes said. He also said he intends to endorse his stipend check back over to the district when he receives it, but said he cannot speak for others.

Former LCWD board president Steve Cozzetto said that if the board wanted to terminate the contract with APT, they may have to pay a two-month penalty, about $52,000.



This is part of the December 02, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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