City hopes to explore water district consolidation
by Joe Shreve
Nov 21, 2012 | 2308 views | 6 6 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Scotts Valley City Council voted at its Nov. 7 meeting to take one of the first steps to explore taking over duties for the Scotts Valley Water District.

City planners have invited the water district’s board to split the cost of hiring Mountain View-based Matrix Consulting Group to determine what, if any, savings or benefits could be gained from consolidation.

Consolidating the two entities would essentially mean that the city would assume the district’s responsibility for maintaining infrastructure, overseeing water usage and reclamation regulations, as well as customer service and billing within Scotts Valley.

The district’s staff, facilities and equipment would all become the city’s responsibility as well. 

“(The City Council is) just seeing if there’s some benefits,” said Deputy City Manager Corrie Kates. “We’re reaching out to see if they want to put it on the agenda.”

City Councilman Dene Bustichi proposed the move during the council’s Sept. 5 meeting, and city staff members spent two months searching for a consulting firm with the necessary experience.

“I think it’s worth the effort to study it,” Bustichi said. “I think with the economic times the way they are, it behooves us to study this to see if it’s worthwhile to save money and possibly improve service.”

Citing “a disconnect between the management and the (district’s) elected officials,” Bustichi said developers considering doing business in Scotts Valley often said progress was slowed by such hurdles as frequent changes in water regulations, which end up requiring repeated applications and permits.

 “The water district, in my opinion, takes multiple attempts to add more conditions and costs to a development,” he said.

According to Kates, the council sent its offer to the district following the Nov. 7 meeting, and as of press time had not received an official response.

Should the district decline the city’s proposal to split the cost of a consultant, Kates said, the council will take another look to determine whether it will hire the consultant unilaterally — at an estimated $25,000 cost.

“It may not be the right thing to do,” Bustichi said. “But until you analyze it, you’ll never know.”

While the agenda for the next meeting of the Scotts Valley Water District — scheduled for Dec. 13 — has not yet been made, district General Manager Charlie McNiesh said the board would likely consider the possibility.

“The position of the district is that we are certainly willing to talk about anything,” he said.

Bustichi said he hoped to see progress before the end of the year.

“I think if there’s a compelling argument that’s backed up by analysis and fact, that shows we can provide good service and save money to our community, I think we’d be foolish not to move in that direction,” he said.

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John James
November 28, 2012
I live in Santa Cruz and the city runs the water company seems to work fine in Santa Cruz and every other city why should scotts valley be so special that they need a special disstrict for water what a waste.

don't wait consolidate
November 27, 2012
I think what we all can agree on is that consolidation is worth looking into to see if there is cost saving and or better services. I for one am tired of constant rate increases and some of the worst water in the county to drink.

We need board members that are not run by party affiliation or outside influences.
November 28, 2012
Bill Smallman
November 26, 2012
Marin County had numerous small water agencies which consolidated to create one large District, MMWD. Doing so, gave the ability to focus and construct infrastructure like storage reservoirs to the benefit of the entire County. Cities that run their own water have to depend on full time staff for important decisions, because the City Council, often does not have the expertise to "brain storm" water issues. I agree with Steve that SCVD should consider merging with SLVWD. They could create a larger Board with Directors elected within separate areas, districts, within the entire District, making sure SV has a strong voice. The main office could also be moved to Scotts Valley. People need to get over our differences, because we both want clean water & healthy environment. Both SLV and SV face overdraft of the Santa Margarita Basin. I advocate building reservoirs at the sand quarries, and pumping "off the top" of high storm flows to fill them. Projects like this, and others, would be much easier to design and build with one District versus competing ones.
Steve Homan
November 26, 2012
The smartest consolidation would be to combine the SVWD with both parts of the SLVWD and the Lompico Water District. That would be a powerhouse of a water district. What does the City of SV have to offer the SVWD to motivate the merger? The boundaries are not consistent with city boundaries, and the district is way bigger than the area within city limits. The City of SV should pay attention to the basic needs of running a city and not try to expand into an area where it has little expertise.
rate payer
November 22, 2012
If this was a way to stabilize rates and stop all the constant rate increases from the water district i would be all for it.

Less government is a good thing even Republicans can agree on that.

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