1. Call to Order.
Directors Amoroso Comstock, Godino, Siedman and Smith present; director Siedman presiding.
3. Closed Session: PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT: Shift Operator; Gov. Code Section 54957.
4. Report from Closed Session.
Director Siedman reported that during the closed session the Board unanimously approved a three-month unpaid leave of absence for Shift Operator Scotty Hanks.
5. Manager’s Report.
-- Update on the Terrace Avenue Bluff Stabilization Project.
Staff reported that the “Save Terrace Avenue” fundraising committee is preparing for a Town Meeting on May 9, 2015 beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the Bolinas Firehouse. Considerable thanks go to Ralph Camiccia (chair of the committee) as well as Remick Hart, Rudi Ferris, Ken Masterton, Dick Bass, DJ O’Neil and unofficial committee members, Fire Chief Anita Tyrell-Brown and and Bolinas Fire Protection District Board Member David Kimball for organizing the meeting and leading the fundraising effort. Thus far, close to $200,000 have been raised towards the goal of $500,000. Supervisor Kinsey will attend the meeting and likely will underscore the County’s commitment to design and install the road-level retaining wall repair project this Fall if the community can raise the necessary construction funds (i.e., $500,000) by July 1st. The meeting will be advertised to the community via articles in the Hearsay News, postcards mailed to all boxholders, and signage at key town locations. Donations to the project are tax-deductible and the Bolinas Community Center is the fiscal sponsor.
-- Update on the BCPUD Chlorine Disinfection Byproduct Reduction Project.
In the last month a new chlorine pump -- paced by the flow meter – was installed to improve the district’s chlorine management at the Woodrat Water Treatment Plant. In addition, the coagulation pilot project is nearly ready to be launched. Lewie Likover is working with consultant Jonathan Van Bourg on an operational protocol for the pilot project which will need approval from district’s assigned engineer at the State Water Resources Control Board before the project can be implemented. Staff also will update the district’s operations plan to reflect the control and process changes that have been made at the water treatment plant in recent months.
Although the levels of chlorine disinfection byproducts in the district’s treated drinking water are declining, the district remains out of compliance with the Maxmimum Contaminant Levels (“MCLs”) for total trihalomethanes (“TTHMs”) and haloacetic acids (“HAA5s”) at its sample sites. As such, notices will be mailed to customers by the end of the week to apprise them of the violations.
-- Update on Replacement of Sewer Pumps at the Wharf Road Lift Station.
Chief Operator Bill Pierce will report on this item as soon as he arrives; the Board therefore deferred this item until a point later in the meeting.
On the water side of operations, staff directed the Board’s attention to the most recent consumption data and noted that consumption was up slightly in the most recently completed quarter ending in March (for the downtown area), as compared to this time last year. Staff plans to analyze the data more closely and determine if there are specific customers who have increased use (if so, those customers will be contacted by the district) or if there simply was an overall increase in water use across the customer base.
Staff said the district received an anonymous letter complaining about the installation of new landscaping at a property recently remodeled on the Little Mesa; the letter writer asked the district to
prohibit such landscape installation in light of the drought. Staff noted that the district is not empowered to regulate landscape installation – land development and permissible property uses are the jurisdiction of the County – in fact, staff believes the County code requires the installation of landscaping as a condition of certain remodel projects.
Staff reported that the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) issued emergency draft regulations to implement the 25% water conservation requirement declared recently by Governor Brown via an Executive Order in light of the on-going drought and record-low snow pack (which is less than 5% of normal). As such, for the first time in state history, a mandatory conservation requirement has been imposed statewide. In addition to the restrictions on outdoor water use imposed last month on all Californians, the draft regulations require small water suppliers (those will fewer than 3,000 connections, such as the BCPUD) to achieve a 25% reduction in consumption as compared to 2013 levels, OR restrict outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week. Staff said that in 2014, Bolinas customers reduced their water use by 30% as compared to 2013; as such, if customers maintain this level of consumption, the district will exceed the 25% reduction standard and it will not be necessary to specifically limit outdoor irrigation. Finally, small water suppliers also will be required to submit a report to the SWRCB in December 2015 with water production data from June – November 2015 and June – November 2013.
Staff directed the Board’s attention to a draft of the Spring 2015 “Pipeline” newsletter which provides an overview of the district’s current water supply as well as the recent regulatory pronouncements of the Governor and the SWRCB. Staff emphasized that while Bolinas, like the rest of Marin, is in comparatively better shape from a water supply perspective than is most of the rest of the state, the lack of late rains this year is a big concern. Most of the rain fell in Bolinas this rain year in a single month – December 2014 – whereas last rain year, most of the rain fell between February – April. If the district does not receive any additional rainfall this rain year, the summer and fall months will be very difficult, so it is very important for every member of the entire community to continue their incredible conservation efforts.
Jack McClellan requested that the Board determine whether it is legally obligated to maintain the confidentiality of customer usage data. He said that he understands customer information generally is exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act, but if the district is empowered to release such data – particularly in circumstances such as the present drought – it should do so as a means by which to require the heaviest water users to conserve more. Jack said that social pressure should be applied if at all possible. Director Smith agreed, and said that the community should not have to struggle to try and accommodate the largest water users if it is possible for those users to conserve more. Director Amoroso said he believes the district established a policy about the confidentiality of customer data during the litigation challenging the water moratorium. The Board directed staff to obtain a legal opinion on the question whether the district can release customer water usage information.
-- Update on Replacement of Sewer Pumps at the Wharf Road Lift Station.
Chief Operator Bill Pierce updated the Board on the district’s efforts to replace the Tarby pumps at its lift station on Wharf Road, both of which failed unexpectedly, leading to the district’s installation of an emergency bypass pump. Bill explained that the Tarby pumps are positive displacement screw pumps; the district has been advised by several suppliers that these pumps are designed to move slurry, not raw sewage, and the quality of the pumps has declined in recent years due to changes in materials and quality of construction. As such, Bill has focused his search on alternative pumps that have choppers or grinders to process the sewage before it is pumped to the ponds; the pumps must be capable of achieving the 200 feet of head necessary to transfer the wastewater from the lift station collection point downtown to the treatment ponds at 101 Mesa Road. Bill has identified a number of options for replacement pumps and recommends that the district engage its consulting engineers to evaluate the options and identify the best pumps for the district to install. After suggesting several questions to raise with the engineers, the Board requested that staff proceed to work with engineers and present a recommendation to the Board as soon as possible.
Staff is working on the district’s annual report to the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) for 2014 and advised the Board that the district’s “unaccounted for water loss” is now under 10% (9.78%); furthermore, since the district now tracks water lost due to leaks and flushing, when those amounts are subtracted out of the unaccounted water loss total, the truely unknown water loss for 2014 was 4.46%. Staff commended the district’s operators for their diligence tracking down and repairing leaks promptly and efficiently.
Staff directed the Board’s attention to paperwork documenting the recent renewal of the district’s property insurance with ACWA/JPIA. The district’s risk management representative was out for a site visit last week and staff will be attending the upcoming ACWA/JPIA Board of Directors meeting in Sacramento on May 4, 2015.
Staff executed a letter agreement with Redwood Empire Disposal Company to extend the terms of the current Franchise Agreement to December 31, 2015 to provide sufficient time for the Board to evaluate the company’s proposed amendment to the Agreement (including rate increases), which will be submitted for the Board’s consideration at the May 27th meeting and, if the amendment is approved in principle by the Board, to conduct the Proposition 218 customer notification and hearing process.
Staff reported that the new GASB 68 accounting rules take effect this fiscal year with regard to the district’s financial reporting about its pension plan with CalPERS. The district’s outside CPA and auditor both recommend that the district order a valuation report from CalPERS at a cost of $800. The Board had no objection.
On the wastewater side of operations, in addition to the work staff is undertaking to identify options for new pumps at the lift station, staff is readying the sprayfields for disposal season, which officially started on April 15th. Flows currently remain low into the system. Staff plans to spray soon but take a break in mid-summer to allow the fields to dry out and permit mowing.
The Board reviewed correspondence sent and received since the last regular meeting, including a letter to Judy Molyneux regarding her request for financial relief, a letter to the County Stormwater Program regarding proposed signage at the entrances to Brighton Beach, BCPUD comments on the proposed tax assessment increase by the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District, and information regarding the County’s update of the Local Coastal Plan. Director Smith noted that the Coastal Commission staff has raised issues relating to agriculture in the coastal zone that could be very problematic for local farmers and ranchers. Matt Lewis said that Peter Martinelli submitted a very well-written opinion piece on this topic a recent issue of the Marin Independent Journal.
-- Drainage Project Manager’s Report.
No report was submitted this month as Lewie Likover is out of town.
6. Community Expression.
Matt Lewis commented that Evie Wilhelm organized a community meeting last Sunday evening at the Bolinas Community Center that was very well attended; downtown parking was a big topic, as was affordable housing. Matt said it was great to see so much energy from younger people in the community, as well as people who are new to town. Director Smith said that he and director Comstock attended, as well, and and concurred that it was a great mix of attendees.
7. Prepayment in Full of Loan Issued to the BCPUD in 1986 by the Department of Water Resources.
The district has worked steadily in recent years to reduce its debt level. Several years ago, the Board approved the expenditure of approximately $140,000 in funds received from the district’s sale of its Pine Gulch Creek property to the National Park Service to pre-pay two outstanding loans. Staff now proposes to expend $300,000 to repay another of the district’s outstanding loans. The current debt burden on this loan through 2022 is over $55,000 per year at an interest rate of 3% (in contrast, the district earns only 0.3% on its reserves). Director Amoroso said that the Finance Committee discussed this proposed prepayment and recommends that the district expend $150,000 in water reserves plus $150,000 in “community benefit” funds from the previously mentioned sale of district property to the National Park Service. The Committee further recommends the district apply the $55,000 in annual savings from the debt prepayment to replenish the water reserves so that they will be restored in less than three years. Director Siedman inquired about whether the “community benefit” fund would be replenished, as well, and director Amoroso said it will take approximately six years to replenish both funds. Director Comstock advised that the Board evaluate the best use of its revenues every year in light of foreseeable increases needed to capital improvement spending.
V. Amoroso/L. Comstock all in favor to prepay the outstanding $300,00 balance due on the 1986 Department of Water Resources loan in full, using $150,000 from water reserves and $150,000 from the community benefit fund, with both reserve funds to be replenished over the next six years.
8. BCPUD’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan, 2015-2020; Draft Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget; Proposition 218 Notice to Customers re: Proposed Increases to Annual Water and Sewer Service Charges.
Director Comstock reported that staff has identified and grouped all of the district’s assets according to their particular enterprise, and obtained engineer’s estimates for the highest priority improvement projects for budget purposes, all of which now is reflected in the Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan. A narrative preamble explains the plan and its exhibit documents, and the first year of the plan is incorporated into the draft budget for fiscal year 2015-16. Director Comstock noted that this is a major development for the district’s budgeting process and will guide the capital improvement project planning for the future. He said the district either will need to raise rates, or expend reserves, or borrow money, or look for grant funding to pay for the various improvement projects in upcoming years. To that end, he suggested it may be worthwhile for the district to engage a grant consultant to identify possible funding sources. He noted that one major project on the sewer system does not yet have an engineer’s estimate, which is the upgrade to the irrigation pump station at the sewer ponds; staff is in discussions now with outside engineers to provide a recommendation and estimate for this project.
Discussion ensued and, in response to questions from Matt Lewis, director Comstock explained that the capital improvement plan will be reevaluated every year and lower priority projects may need to be reprioritized based on needs at the time; he further noted that the budget anticipates both expending funds on capital projects and bolstering the district’s reserves. Matt inquired whether the installation of monitoring wells (as part of the district’s water supply study) is included in the capital improvement plan. Director Amoroso explained that the Board most recently authorized an expenditure of up to $7,500 for the district’s consulting hydrogeologist to analysis all of the current monitoring data and recommend whether it would be worthwhile for the district to pursue the installation of monitoring wells (which could cost as much as $100,000). Director Godino said she believes that it is very important for the district to maintain and improve its infrastructure and to be of service to the community in this meaningful way, so she commended the Finance Committee and staff for the development the capital improvement plan and related budget documents.
V. Amoroso/L. Comstock all in favor to approve the district’s Five Year Capital Improvement Plan.
Director Smith requested that the Board discuss at the May meeting a potential reallocation of the “endowment” fund for capital improvement projects and director Siedman directed staff to include such an item on the meeting agenda.
Staff presented the district’s draft budget for 2015-2016 fiscal year, which reflects a 4% increase in overall expenditures consisting primarily of dedicated amounts for capital improvement projects and the bolstering of district reserves for future projects; a 3% increase in wages; and an assumed 2.7 % increase in overall costs based on the San Francisco Bay Area CPI. The budget proposes a 10% increase in the annual service charges for both water and sewer service; staff noted the last service charge increase was in 2012, so a 10% increase now is less than the overall cost of living increase for the area since that time. Staff also presented a draft Proposition 218 notice to customers which explains the foregoing budget highlights.
V. Amoroso/D. Smith all in favor to approve the mailing of the Proposition 2018 notice and draft budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year to the district’s customers.
9. Update on Proposed Sale of College of Marin Properties in Bolinas.
Director Siedman met with Steve Matson, Roger Peacock, Kristin Walker, and Mark Dempster, and also met separately with Josh Churchman, Toby Bisson and a representative from a commercial fisherman’s association, about the possibility of acquiring the College of Marin lab building and dock at a fair market value of $0 due to the required clean-up costs. In brief, the Bolinas Community Land Trust (“BCLT”) may be able to obtain grants to remodel the lab building for affordable housing and the fisherman are interested in acquiring the dock to ensure it remains available for public access; however, the BCPUD may need to be the purchaser (and then lease out the properties as appropriate) because the College of Marin is obligated to first consider acquisition proposals by public entities providing recreational services and second to consider proposals for affordable housing projects. Matt Lewis inquired about the liability issues posed for the BCPUD if it were to acquire these properties and director Siedman said the BCPUD would require the lessors to indemnify the BCPUD and carry insurance naming the BCPUD as an additional insured. Director Comstock said the BCPUD will not be involved in acquiring any of the College of Marin properties unless it has a firm commitment by the BCLT and/or fisherman’s organization to assume all responsibility for the properties as the lessors and director Siedman concurred.
10. Resolution 636: Proposing An Election Be Held in its Jurisdiction on November 3, 2015; Requesting The Board Of Supervisors To Consolidate With Any Other Election Conducted On Said Date; And Requesting Election Services By The County Registrar of Voters.
G. Godino/L.Comstock all in favor to pass Resolution 636 authorizing an election to be held in the district on November 3, 2015.
11. Update on Cross-Connection Control Survey.
Nothing to report.
12. Water Supply Update.
Nothing to report.
13. Volunteer Committee Reports.
-- Bolinas Lagoon Advisory Committee: Director Amoroso said the most recent meeting of the committee was somewhat contentious due to friction with Linda Dahl (the Open Space Manager) and the main topic was the eucalytpus trees that have fallen into the lagoon.
-- Downtown Parking & Traffic Committee: Director Siedman noted there appears to be interest brewing on the topic of downtown parking and traffic in light of the recent town meeting and director Smith said he would try and coordinate with the interested parties.
-- Resource Recovery: Staff presented the most recent inspection report of the Resource Recovery facility by the County’s Environmental Health Services department. Jennie Pfeifer inquired about the process of moving off of the Resource Recovery committee as she has been on it since the 1990’s; the Board suggested she submit a resignation and a replacement will be appointed.
-- West Marin Mosquito Control Coordinating Council: Staff noted that the results of the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District’s mail-in assessment ballot will be available in May.
-- Land Stewardship Committee: Director Siedman reported that the committee is working on a final report to the Board; individual assignments for sections of the report have been made and the committee will next meet in two months.
14. Other Business.
a. Board Committee Reports.
-- Finance: Minutes of the March 24, 2015 and the April 14, 2015 Finance Committee Meetings.
This item item was deferred to the May 2015 meeting.
-- Legal: As noted above, staff has been directed to obtain a legal opinion as to whether the district may publicly disclose customer water use data.
-- Mesa Septic, Flood Control and Roads: Nothing to report.
-- Operations: Nothing to report.
-- Park and Recreation: Staff reported that a project completion package was submitted to the state to request reimbursement of the final costs of the Mesa Park Ballfield Irrigation and Public Restroom Project, and a site inspection of the project by the state occurred earlier this month.
-- Personnel: Director Smith expressed an interest in reviewing the district’s personnel policy for potential update and revision.
-- Sewer: Nothing to report.
b. Minutes of the March 18, 2015 regular meeting; Minutes of the March 25, 2015 special meeting.
Directors Comstock, Godino and Smith offered clarifying corrections to the minutes of the March 18th meeting regular meeting of the Board.
L. Comstock/G. Godino all in favor to approve the minutes of the March 18, 2015 regular meeting of the Board, as corrected.
Director Amoroso offered clarifying corrections to the minutes of the March 25th special Board meeting.
D. Smith/G. Godino all in favor to approve the minutes of the March 25, 2015 special meeting of the Board, as corrected.
L. Comstock/D. Smith all in favor to approve the warrant list.
d. Scheduling of Next Meeting(s):
May 27, 2015 at 8:30 p.m.