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24850 Birch Street, Willits, CA 95490

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Board of Directors of Brooktrails Township Community Services District met in regular session on July 11, 2006 at 7:01 p.m. at the Brooktrails Community Center.


Roll call showed the following directors present: Williams, Ziady, Orth and Horrick. President Skezas was absent due to a Lions Club commitment. As Vice-President, Director Horrick presided. Also present was General Manager Chapman. District Counsel Neary was absent with prior notice.



1. June 27, 2006. Director Williams moved to approve the minutes as presented; Director Ziady seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

2. Tour of Water Plant. The meeting participants traveled to the District water plant for a 45-minute review of the completed clearwell/backwash ponds project and a demonstration of plant operations with Utilities Supervisor Robert Melluish and General Manager Mike Chapman.


Patricia Cornell described having found at least six motorized vehicle ramps along a hiking trail. She had reported this to the General Manager July 10, 2006 and it was dismantled that morning.

Dick Johnson of 1682 Crawford Drive said dogs were running unleashed at the Par Course.

3. Review of Accounts Payable report and authorization to issue checks. Director Orth moved to approve payment of the July 11, 2006 outstanding invoice report; Director Ziady seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

4. Appeal for relief of water charges – Gerardo Nieto. Mrs. Nieto appeared for her husband who could not attend. Director Ziady recused herself from the matter, being a neighbor of the Nietos. Mr. Chapman said this particular appeal was brought to the Board because it was a policy precedent issue about stolen water, and therefore he did not want to handle it under the normal water bill relief process which was based on leaks and hardship. He was seeking guidance for any similar future cases. About 80,000 gallons were lost. The Nietos' ten-year payment history was impeccable and their usage history was normal. Mrs. Nieto said the house was vacant for two months; after receiving the bill they checked for leaks but did not find any. This is why they felt the water was stolen. General Manager Chapman confirmed since that time period their bills have once again dropped to normal. Director Orth felt the standard approach and formula (derived in 2001 via prior Board) was good for leakage and for theft; it allowed homeowners to take action and protected the directors from having to get involved in every case. He felt a one-time event, whether leak or theft, could be treated the same way, with the expectation that the customer would take action to prevent future incidents. Director Williams asked how someone would steal 80,000 gallons of water. Director Orth said he knew someone paying $1.00/gallon for 3,000 gallons of treated water for their house per dry month. Director Horrick responded that people in the hills occasionally fill a tank in the back of their truck, often with the owner's permission. Director Williams said if a case was obviously a complete aberration and clearly not an owner’s fault, the same procedure should apply if it's a one-time event.

Bob Terry asked if PG&E would share such a bill with the customer. Director Horrick said he doubted it; he thought that PG&E would offer a payment plan but that's all. Another audience member voiced that some municipal utilities do offer relief.

Director Orth moved that a first-time situation of non-standard water billing be given 50% relief, applying to leaks and to possible theft of water. Director Williams seconded. The motion carried unanimously. Mr. Chapman told Mrs. Nieto he would contact her tomorrow; the formula indicated the customer would pay $274.31 and the District would write off $214.91 (bad debt). Mrs. Nieto thanked him.

5. Appeal by Kyle Sickler for relief on water bill. Mrs. Sickler, of Timber Road in Spring Creek, asked for relief from her $881.56 water bill (151,000 gallon leak). Ms. Sickler admitted her line has had some problems in the past which have been fixed. She referred to a previous 55,000-gallon loss they experienced two years ago, but said it wasn't a leak because her husband had walked the line and found no leak; the next month's bill was normal. Mr. Chapman said she had not come for relief on that earlier incident.

Ms. Sickler then referred to the current leak. She had it partially repaired in April 2006, but no one had been able to find the real reason for the remaining leakage. She has since fully replaced the line (Monday July 10, 2006). During this process her water had been turned off a few weeks ago by the District. She said she had had friends come over and turn the water on several occasions during this turnoff period, but said one time she had come back to find the water on without explanation. Ms. Sickler confirmed Director Orth's query about the new line having a security measure. She said she could not see the bottom of her hill from the top house so has no idea what may have happened down there. Mr. Chapman said the current leak is still very substantial and there is very substantial usage. Director Orth said he hoped we don't see a whole lot of these cases. General Manager Chapman said that under the appeal formula, the customer would pay $470.68 and the District would write off $410.88. The Director’s consensus was that because of the direction was already given in the Nieto appeal, no motion was needed and the General Manager should simply handle the appeal for relief himself.

Director Williams asked why the water had been turned off in such an abrupt manner. General Manager Chapman responded it was because the District could not afford to let a 5,000 gallon/day leak continue. It was discovered through the standard billing system and 151,000 gallons had already been lost. After leaving a courtesy telephone call message to Ms. Sickler, the water was shut off on an emergency basis.

6. Resolution of completion of Clearwell/Backwash Project. General Manager Chapman referred to the water plant tour of the completed project. A notice of completion must be filed with the County. Director Orth moved to adopt Resolution 2006-22 accepting the Clearwell project as completed and directing and authorizing the General Manager to file a Notice of Completion with the County Clerk-Recorder and to prepare all other documents required for project closeout. Director Williams seconded. Mr. Chapman said the backwash delivers the equivalent of 27 swimming pools of water every month back to the reservoir. Roll call vote was as follows:

AYES: Directors: Williams, Ziady, Orth, Horrick
NOES: Directors: None
ABSENT: Directors: Skezas

7. Consideration of maximum monthly water usage – Tier 7. General Manager Chapman said this would be the first discussion round; the issue would return for further discussion after Board input. As a background measure he described a situation where a very few individuals, really just a handful among the 1,500 water customers, potentially abuse the water system by consuming 40,000 – 60,000 gallons each of water each month. He noted that in May 2006 the top 3 consumers consumed as much as 31 normal households. He contacted these high end users via a courtesy letter, but 2 of the top 3 then repeated the water abuse behavior in June 2006. He then discussed the question of what could be considered reasonable use; he described the situation whereby vacant lot owners — who desire to live here and enjoy Brooktrails — couldn’t because of the abuse of some. He said that we hear continually from desperate vacant lot owners who would like to build here (and would typically use the average amount of water).

The General Manager showed bill calculations using a 31,000-gallon figure as the cap where Tier 6 breaks off. Essentially 31,000 gallons per month was 5.9 times the Brooktrails average and about 2.3 times the state average. The manager further did not like the idea of having to declare a “water emergency” for the entire District in order to deal with this problem. He then commented that, as was suggested by Richard Estabrook a few years earlier in preparing the emergency ordinance, the only way to deal with this problem was through someone's wallet. He then gave the example of a customer with a $339.00 water bill for June 2006, which if recalculated with a Tier 7 charge of $.25 per cubic foot would then total $1,148.00. He clarified that this proposal did not specifically address agriculture use. Director Orth said that delivered domestic water can cost $1.00/gallon, and he strongly supported a Tier 7 approach with even a higher rate. Mr. Chapman said conservation was the goal, but revenue was a derivative. Director Williams asked how these properties are using this much water. The discussion then turned to agriculture, but Mr. Chapman said the problem was you can't define it, but you could easily define a meter reading. Typical low, moderate and high use bills were reviewed.

Director Ziady said we are in a dry year and we could end up triggered into a drought situation and have to inflict rationing on the entire community. An audience member, Dick Johnson, said the reason we are short of water is because of lack of capacity; he continued it was a good idea to penalize people who use more than their share. Mr. Chapman said establishing the new tier would cost the District about $1,000 and take several months for the public hearings. Director Orth then clarified for the audience that none of the directors know who the particular people were in terms of the high end users. He clarified for Bob Terry that his $1/gallon quote for delivered water was indeed per gallon, not cubic foot. Mr. Terry suggested that they quadruple the $.25 gallon rate. Directors commented that 4¢/gallon was at least a start. Director Orth said that if someone formally sold our water to a commercial vendor, that vendor would lose their license; private sale of District water is another matter.

Director Williams asked if it was clear that Brooktrails as the water district does not have authority to go on the land of someone using all this water to find out why. Mr. Chapman said he could if he had reason to believe someone is doing something illegal with the water system, but also implied that we were not cops, and he was not really excited about the idea of doing this, particularly in light of local marijuana cultivation. Director Williams said these kinds of users were really skewing the numbers, especially when it came to expanding the system. Mr. Chapman confirmed this. Mr. Terry asked if the District had to furnish more than "x" number of gallons to them. Mr. Chapman responded that District Counsel had stated we had to provide it, if they were willing to pay for it. However, the District could set the price. Vice-President Horrick asked if we could find out what super-large users were charged elsewhere. Director Orth said we should find out what the price of delivered water was in the County, and agreed we have to regulate through the meter and not trespass onto people's property. He said employees also appreciated those policies so they do not have to act like police.

Director Orth said we should discuss an energy audit of the District and this would help us look at our energy use and come up with some solar alternatives. Director Ziady agreed. Director Williams asked if it was true that with all burn permits suspended, no one was supposed to have a fire on their property at all. General Manager Chapman confirmed that burning was suspended by CDF. Director Williams said he observed a big fire on July 4th . Mr. Chapman said CDF and our fire department responded to that particular fire; the responsible party was relatively new to the area and CDF decided to only give a warning ticket. The discussion turned to the use of the 911 phone system for reporting fires. Director Williams said it was overwhelmed; Director Orth commented that 911 was appropriate and not overwhelmed in this rural area.


From Directors: Director Orth reported he had just installed a solar system and gone through the Brooktrails and County process and was surprised at how much the permit cost. He said the power he was saving went to his closest neighbor first. Director Williams said he felt the County should make it affordable. Director Orth said there was an inspection / certification process to get the rebate from the state, so there is an incentive to go through the process; also they cannot assess his home for the added value of the system.

From District Counsel: Not present.

From General Manager: General Manager Chapman said no offers to buy had been received for the older fire truck, but it had been suggested to be retained and housed in the Sherwood Road Subdivision, to be manned by firefighters there, and that this seemed like a good idea. Well #4 will be drilled next week. He also mentioned that the Golf Course would like to place a sandwich board advertising their food by the big log. Director Orth said he was in favor of a larger sign that indicated what was in the District complex in general rather than a sandwich-board sign for the golf shop deli. Other Directors agreed this was a good idea.

Mr. Chapman commented on the recently distributed sewer rate study by the City of Willits. He noted our debt structure was entirely different from theirs. However, 7,230 EDUs is given as the long-sought capacity figure. Nationally the American average is about 250 gallons of waste/day/family for each EDU. Commercial businesses have different ways of making that calculation. We have 1,414 EDUs as there are septic systems on Ridge Road. Therefore we are using about 20% of the potential Willits buildout. He told the Board we need not feel we that we need to match the proposed increased Willits rates due to our entirely different financial positions. Of more concern to him were the new State requirements for sewer discharges on satellite sewer districts that have not been fully sorted out yet. Mr. Chapman concluded by saying that Richard Estabrook notified him the other day that we now have 281 acre feet of water as opposed to his projected 272 acre foot model, or we were 9 acre feet to the good.


Director Orth moved to adjourn, and Vice-President Horrick declared the meeting of June 27, 2006 closed at 8:47 p.m.


Secretary to the Board of Directors

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