Merger with SLV in question in Lompico Water race
by Peter Burke
Oct 18, 2012 | 8359 views | 26 26 comments | 733 733 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lois Henry
Lois Henry
slideshow
Rick Harrington
Rick Harrington
slideshow
Bill Smallman
Bill Smallman
slideshow
Gail Jones
Gail Jones
slideshow
Duane Davis
Duane Davis
slideshow
Cheryl Trapp
Cheryl Trapp
slideshow
Lompico voters have a choice among three incumbent candidates, who share a mission to clear the way for a vote on whether to merge with San Lorenzo Valley Water District, and three challengers, who are not ready to join the larger district.

Incumbents Rick Harrington, Lois Henry and Bill Smallman are running as a ticket to retain their seats on the board. Three newcomers to the board, Gail Jones, Duane Davis and Cheryl Trapp, are running separately, but all three generally oppose the idea of a merger.

The board of directors has the ability to send a merger proposal to a vote of district ratepayers. Voters would decide if a bond or other funding mechanism should be passed to allow unification with San Lorenzo Valley.

As of this week, the district had not quite $100,000 in its coffers, after being nearly underwater two years ago.

 

Rick Harrington

Harrington, a Lompico resident since 1981, said he was postponing a retirement plan to move to Oregon to finish the task of providing a reliable, plentiful, safe and reasonably priced water supply to Lompico.

After serving on the board from 1986 to 1994, Harrington was appointed in April 2010 following Jane Wycoff’s resignation.

He said the district has been making small fixes, such as replacing lateral pipes and repairing the Lewis Water Treatment plant. But it would be impossible, he said, to hire a district manager at a cost of $80,000 to $100,000 per year and also replace failing water tanks without raising already high rates paid by  residents of the canyon.

He hopes to move toward a merger with San Lorenzo Valley Water District to meet his top priority: “an adequate water supply for Lompico, even in times of draught.”

In the meantime, Harrington said district leaders were crafting a general plan that is not based on a merger to lay out what the district can do to remain solvent and functional into the future. Still, he sees a merger as the most fitting prospect for the district.

“I am committed to bringing that vote to the community,” he said.

 

Lois Henry

Henry, vying for her second term, said her priority was to make sure the district has safe water.

She has been responsible for much of the legwork of sorting the district’s finances since the board fired the district manager two years ago, and she said she learned much during her time.

“This has been such a big learning experience for me,” Henry said. “I had no idea what goes into being a board member for a water district.”

Her focus now, however, is to move the merger proposal to a stage where canyon voters can decide if the merger makes sense for them.

“The board can stop a merger from happening, but the board can’t make a merger happen,” she said.

Henry said the district has enough money for some smaller projects, but not enough to buy a new water tank or replace all of the faulty lateral lines. She said merging with SLV would allow for quicker repairs, because staff members are available all the time.

 

Bill Smallman

Smallman, a 20 year Lompico resident who was elected to the board in 2008, ran for Santa Cruz County supervisor in June but decided to return to the Lompico board to continue to make infrastructure repairs while researching the merger idea.

He said he reached the conclusion that the district needs to merge to make the large repairs it needs and maintain a safe and clean water supply.

“I don’t see the money there to keep this stuff up, even with the high rates we pay,” Smallman said.

 

Duane Davis

A Lompico resident of nearly 15 years, Davis, a systems engineer, previously served as president of the Lompico Community Center for six years.

“People know I am thoughtful on my decisions,” he said.

Davis said had never had a problem with water quality at his home and was pleased with the board’s success in turning the district around financially. However, he does not believe district residents should spend several million dollars for a bond to pay for a merger.

“The district is in the recovery process,” he said. “I’m just saying, let’s give it a little more time

Instead, he said he would like to hire a district manager and increase the storage capacity in the district by purchasing a larger tank to replace the failing Lewis II. He said the district would not have to raise water rates to complete those fixes, but rather be smarter with its money.

Davis said he would promote a Lompico Water employee to district manager and hire another part-time maintenance worker to make sure the staff did not accrue high overtime costs.

If taking those steps failed to get the district running strongly, Davis said he would change his mind about the merger.

“I don’t have anything against a merger, if it’s needed,” he said. “I would like to see if we can survive without a merger. I think we can.”

 

Gail Jones

The executive secretary for the county health director, Jones has lived in Lompico for 12 years and served on the Lompico Community Center Board for four years.

She got involved with the water district when she began to hear about the possibility of a merger with SLV.

“I don’t think our only survival is a merge with SLV,” Jones said. “I think Lompico deserves a chance to fix ourselves.”

Jones said she was not unshakably opposed to the merger, but she thought, like Davis, that the district should start by hiring a district manager and making the needed repairs to maintain the water system without merging with SLV.

She believes Lompico will not need to raise rates any time soon, after passing a rate increase in January that produces an added $80,000 in revenue per year.

 

Cheryl Trapp

Trapp, a real estate field inspector who has lived in Lompico for 12 years, has attended district board meetings during the past several years and hopes to be part of the solution in Lompico.

She said a district manager, not the board, should be running the district, and she opposes a merger with SLV that would place a heavy expense on Lompico residents.

“I don’s see the reasoning to give the water company away and pay an exceptional amount to do it,” Trapp said.

She said she believed the district could complete its “to-do list” without the burden of a 30-year bond that would likely be proposed to pay for the merger with SLV.

She said she would look for solutions aside from raising water rates if possible.

At a glance

A debate moderated by the League of Women Voters will be held at Zayante Fire Department, 7700 E. Zayante Road, from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24.

Factual errors in this story have been corrected. 

Comments
(26)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Bill Smallman
|
November 05, 2012
The pro "local control" candidates are using misinformation to help their campaign, and this is just plain wrong and shows a lack of integrity.

A partial list of misinformation includes Mr. Davis reporting that because SLVWD paid 10.5 million for Felton Water, why are they not considering to pay for Lompico? Fact is Felton Water was bought by the public, with a similar bond that Lompico would need. See, "Candidate has it Wrong..." In the "As You See It Letters" 11/4 in the Sentinel.

Next up, Mr. Davis frequently says it will cost much more from debt to merge, and not consider the fact that the amount of money saved from lower rates is likely to be equal and result into a zero or minimal net cost.

Next up, is that it is the incumbents fault for the $741,000 debt owed to CalPers. When, in fact, the CalPers retirement system is something which LCWD cannot afford and should of never got into in the first place. The amount of money would be even more if LCWD stayed in. In my opinion, the amount is highly questionable, and the final amount will be decided in a court room. There is a long list, for a very small District election, of misinformation which there is not enough room in this blog.

All of the incumbents respect trying to maintain local control, and the merger plan slowly developed into the best option. The current Board is committed to negotiate the best deal to Lompico. After the merger happens, I believe most will wonder why it was not done earlier. They will of realized that the 2.6 million of needed repairs occurred not only from neglectful Boards, but because of lack of money. If the merge occurred earlier, then the repairs would of been kept up, and Lompicans would of enjoyed thousands of saved money from years of lower rates.

Ms. Jones and Ms. Trapp were too busy to make it to the one and only forum which was put on for you to get information on which candidates to elect. And somebody thinks the prior survey taken was a joke. And then we have Mr. Dugan whose logic is driven out of hate. Please consider the facts, and re-elect myself, Lois Henry and Rick Harrington. It is not a vote on merger, but a chance at merger- which I believe most will see as the best option.
Lompican
|
November 05, 2012
Mr. Smallman it will take minimal effort to uncover your lies, propaganda and lack of integrity.

You say: "All of the incumbents respect trying to maintain local control"

However 4 years after you were elected the LCWD does not have a long term budget / maintenance plan that will reflect such respect on behalf of the incumbents. If you are claiming otherwise please forward the written plan to Mr. Burke at the valley press no later then 5 pm tonight.

Duane Davis
|
November 05, 2012
I've seen plenty condemning Mr. Dugan coming out of your camp, including from members of your campaign staff.

As for the fire and drought scares...

We haven't had a forest fire SLV in over 100 years. The current water system can, and has, been able to handle every structural fire in the history of the district.

We have had two droughts in the past 35 years. Both times other districts in the county were also dealing with the effects of the drought and were in even worse shape than Lompico. Lompico was small enough that it COULD truck in water, other districts could not so they had to be even more strict on water rationing.

The fact is that almost all of the rest of the county it hurting for water. Once we're inter-tied to them our water becomes part of the county water pool and we will have to share.

I don't see how the fire/drought argument, and the resulting impact, is a wise investment for our $6 MILLION, loss of control of our district and our water rights.
LOMPICAN
|
November 05, 2012
Mr smallman, we have a "chance at merger" no matter who is elected. But we have no chance of keeping our water local if you are.

Fix and keep our our water system! Dump the pay to give away three!
Bill Smallman
|
November 05, 2012
Nobody is condemning Mr Dugan, and an underground pipeline if built on an unused portion of his property would affect him very little, other than perhaps any money he would receive to grant an easement. However, it would be deny Lompicans of an economical way for emergency water for drought or fire. And, I wouldn't call these scare tactics, when thousands were spent for a water truck in the last drought. Most question Mr. Dugan's anti-merger position, which there is no reason, so one can only believe that it is hate driven from his broken relationship with SLVWD. The facts are that Lompico does have limited water resources and that Felton did have to pay the bulk of their merger bill. These are facts provided by non-LCWD customers which further support merger, and have been disregarded by the no-merge candidates.
Duane Davis
|
November 05, 2012
The incumbents and their "Citizens Advisory Committee" campaign committee are also quick to condemn Mr. Dugan because he's not a LCWD customer and cannot vote on a merger. However, the inter-tie plan will greatly effect him as the plan is to cut through his property.

Yet they'll accept support from Kevin Collins, the head of the Lompico Watershed Conservancy, and his WIFE Mary Jo Walker, Santa Cruz County Auditor/Controller. Who, though they do live in Lompico, also are NOT LCWD customers, cannot vote on the issue and would not pay on the bond. They pull their water directly from the creek and their septic system is upstream from the LCWD intake.

Bill Smallman
|
November 05, 2012
Bruce,

I don't believe it was disingenuous of the Auditor-Controller, since the bulk of the cost was picked up by the residents. There may be additional funding which Lompico can seek out to help with their merge. What is truly disingenuous it tha Mr. Davis is spinning this as the incumbents are crafting a merger plan which shouldn't have to pay for, since Felton didn't. When, in fact, they did, and they are also much larger than Lompico. Moreover, SLVWD is negotiating with a private company -It is entirely a different set of circumstances. Equating this in any way to Lompico is very misleading IMHO.
Bruce Holloway
|
November 05, 2012
Lompican, I certainly did read it. Felton property owners borrowed $11 million, and the memo says $9 million was left after expenses. So SLVWD kicked in another $1.5 million to come up with $10.5 million, plus SLVWD took on the $2.9 million loan.

The Auditor-Controller seems to believe that the total amount contributed by SLVWD was zero.

Lompican
|
November 05, 2012
Bruce, did you read the resolution you linked to ?

2. "The District will make a cash payment to Cal-Am in the sum of $10,500,000.00.

3. The District will assume responsibility for the $2,900,000.00 outstanding balance on the existing Kirley Street Treatment Plant Loan."

Why does the auditor claims paid amount was 1.5 mil ?

Bruce Holloway
|
November 05, 2012
Hi Bill, here's a link

www.slvwd.com/agendas/Full/2008/06-05-2008/Item 8a.pdf

to some of the info on which I based the following letter to the Sentinel editor this morning:

County Auditor-Controller Mary Jo Walker criticized a Lompico County Water District director candidate's campaign mailer for saying that San Lorenzo Valley Water District paid $10.5 million to buy the Felton water system.

SLVWD paid $1.5 million of that amount in cash and assumed responsibility for a $2.9 million loan -- a total of $4.4 million. SLVWD ratepayers continue to pay interest on the loan, which matures in 2027.

When the Felton water system changed from private hands to public, about $100,000 per year of property taxes was lost to the county and districts like Felton Fire. State taxpayers covered the losses to the school and community college districts.

It's disingenuous for the Auditor-Controller to say, "It was the citizens of Felton, not the SLVWD, who bought their water system..." They had millions and millions of dollars of help, not only from SLVWD, but also the county and the state.

Duane Davis
|
November 05, 2012
It's unfortunate that Mr. Smallman can't even handle basic math.

Felton's public bond did not cover the full purchase price plus debt. SLVWD did have to cover several million at least. It also had to be purchased.

In our case we have a district valued at about $12 MILLION that is already public owned, SLVWD wants Lompico to give it to them in addition to Lompico paying for repairs, upgrades and modifications to make it compatible with their system. So, we're really GIVING SLVWD $15 MILLION of value PLUS we're paying another $3 MILLION in interest for the privilege.

It will also cost much less if we hold off on a merger and fix what we can first, without a bond.

The estimate is that we can fix everything ourselves, without a bond, in under 10 years.

Without a bond our cost will drop to the SLV rates in less than 10 years, SAVING about $4 MILLION, if we then merge with SLVWD

With a bond we will be paying (according to Mr. Smallman) the same as, or a little more than we are now, FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS!

A good portion of the bond would pay for upgrades to make our district compatible with SLVWD's monitoring and billing systems. Some of it is due to manufacturing problems with piping (not the fault of the district or prior boards). And some of it, several of the tanks, don't need to be replaced for another 15-30 years.

Mr. Smallman also doesn't take into account SLVWD rate hikes. Over the past 5 years they have been raising rates an average of 9% per year. That's while the inflation rate is and average of 3% per year and SLVWD has $9 MILLION in reserves. FYI, SLVWD's reserve goal is only $1 MILLION so they are at 9x their normal reserves.

He, and the incumbents also don't tell you how SLVWD wants to build a new $50 MILLION treatment plant. This would add another ~$400 per year to every ones property taxes. It will have little or no benefit to Lompico, and Lompico, being a very small part of SLVWD, will have little influence (in the way of voting power) to prevent it.

All you have to do is talk to some of the Felton customers. EVERY scare tactic used by SLVWD and FLOW to get the water system from CalAm has come to pass as part of SLVWD. Rates are sky rocketing, water is being pumped out of Felton and water quality and problem resolution has gotten poorer.
Lawrence Chen
|
November 05, 2012
There is no reason to condemn Mr Dugan regarding Lompico or Felton water issues. Dugan was correct on every count. Everything he warned about with SLVWD came to pass.

Lompico - don't lose your water company. Once you give it away, you'll never get it back.
Chris Kilgus
|
October 31, 2012
LOMPICO AND MERGER

I think it is great new people what to run for the Lompico Water Board. However, those whose campaign is based on “no merger” or “keep local control” need to be asked one question: “Where is your new source of water going to come from?”

The Lompico system is tapped out. We have just enough to get by. Drilling new wells would be extremely expensive and might not even produce. We are taking as much from the creek as will ever be allowed.



That leaves nothing for an emergency such as an earthquake or a fire. If we merge with SLV Water a pipeline will be installed to connect the systems. They could put a one way valve on it, flowing into Lompico. It will never be the other way around.

I was on the board for six years and I initially thought local control was the right thing to protect, but that same question keeps coming up and you need to ask your candidate who opposes merger, “where is your new source of water going to come from?”

I am voting for incumbents Lois Henry, Bill Smallman and Rick Harrington. I worked with each of them when I was on the board and they will lead us in the right direction.

Chris Kilgus

Lompico, CA

bill payer
|
November 01, 2012
"they will lead us in the right direction..."

do you mean more issues like Calpers? or more usless employees like the secretary who gets paid full time for never being there?

More than half the time I go there, no one is there. When I call, I leave voice mail that doesnt get returned. I know we have a secretary on the bank roll, I just wish we had one in the office. Of course ed-n-deb seem to be there all the time, and seem to have good working knowlege of the file system, mabe one of them could work there. Heck, bill could even give them his key (again)
Lompican
|
November 01, 2012
I will vote for the incumbents:

Lompican's are not the sharpest pencils in the pile. Each election we get complete fools who run for office (with the exception of Duane Davis), and after they are elected they do not do their jobs. For instance, I'm fed up with Director Gott, who doesn't even bother to read is Board Agenda packet before attending each monthly water board meeting.

Vote for the incumbents. They are dolts. There is no doubt about it, but they will force a merger, and we will not have to deal with the incompetency of board members and their stupidity any longer. We will increase the gene pool from which we select our candidates for SLVWD, and this includes professional staff on board, unlike that of LCWD.

As for the challengers, Duane is a very smart guy, but will not be able to do things on his own. The other two ladies running didn’t even bother respecting the community and attending the debate hosted by the League of Women Voters. None of them will get my vote.

Lompican
|
November 03, 2012
We, unlike EVERY other district in the county, do not need new water sources.

Lompico is NOT growing and our water sources can produce more than we use.

Maximum daily use in Lompico is 88gpm. We can currently supply 100gpm and that will go up to about 118gpm when the lewis plant and last well come back online.

Earthquake, Fire and Drought are scare tactics. The most recent forest fire in San Lorenzo Valley that I've been able to find reference to was in 1899, more than 110 years ago. We have lost tanks in earthquakes and survived, we have been through droughts and survived. Why is it that all of a sudden we can't survive these events anymore?

I suggest you look at the county master plan and the inter-tie plan. It WILL be a two-way inter-tie connecting SLV to Lompico and it WILL be designed as gravity feed OUT of Lompico.

SLV and the other water districts in the county NEED more water so they can continue their expansions. If the merge goes through Lompico will be one of those source.

Lompican
|
October 21, 2012
“The board can stop a merger from happening, but the board can’t make a merger happen,” she said.

This is simply not true. The board, the community or LAFCO can initiate a merge. There is no vote by the community. Though the community CAN stop the merge if enough are against it.

Only a bond would have to be voted on by the community.

The incumbents say the community should vote on it but they've had 4 YEARS to work on it and we've seen no effort to put it to a vote.
Chris Kilgus
|
November 05, 2012
I think it is interesting that "Lompican" can't use his name. Who are you? If you can't be honest about whom you are, why should anyone car what you have to say?

You say, "Earthquake, Fire and Drought" are scare tactics. Well, the prospect of one of those three happening are very real and should be considered.

118 gpm with everything on line, 88 gpm daily usage. That leaves only a 25% safety margin. That would be gone with one well going dry. The water table dropping that is a possibility.

We need another source of water and none exists without a merger.

Without a name Lompican I think you are irrelevant. What are you afraid of?

Chris Kilgus

lompican
|
November 05, 2012
We lompicans are many. Some of us would rather the Freck "where do you live?" gang not know our names, because we know how they operate.
Duane Davis
|
November 05, 2012
88gpm is the HIGHEST daily water usage over a period of several YEARS. There might have only been a SINGLE day in 3 or more years where we hit that number but that is what they use to calculate required supply.

Fact is we use much less than 88gpm the vast majority of the time and we have operated fine with multiple water sources offline in even the recent past and even with several tanks leaking badly.

We'd be better off investing in a larger storage capacity. Replacing a 100,000 gallon tank costs approximately $130,000. For another $30,000 we can double that replacement to 200,000 gallons, a good investment in my opinion. With more storage we can better handle any demand spike that comes along.
Duane Davis
|
October 20, 2012
Pretty accurate for me.
Lompico Resident
|
October 20, 2012
Funny how none of the incumbents are posting on these articles. It's always their lackies. What,do they think they're too good for us?

Concerned Resident
|
October 20, 2012
It's so they can spread their lies and be able to deny they ever said it later.
Gail Jones
|
October 19, 2012
I was misquoted about raising rates. I DON'T believe we'll need to raise rates anytime soon!
Merrie Schaller
|
October 19, 2012
Lois Henry was also misquoted; she said that the District has enough money for small projects, but not for big projects like replacing tanks and repairing laterals.
Lompican
|
October 21, 2012
So..

Harrington says:

"the district has been making small

fixes, such as replacing lateral pipes"

But, according to Merrie Schaller, Henry said that the District has enough money for small projects, but not for big projects like replacing tanks and repairing laterals.

So is fixing laterals a big project or a small project?

Are they being fixed or aren't they?

As they are running as a ticket I'd expect them to AT LEAST tell the same story.



We encourage your online comments in this public forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a forum for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Readers may report such inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at pbeditor@pressbanner.com.