District director requests later meetings, review of board policies

By Karen Brainard

The meeting time of the Ramona Municipal Water District Board of Directors will once again be reconsidered, this time at the request of Director Rex Schildhouse.

The Division 3 director said 10 to 12 constituents have told him they would like the meetings, held at 2 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, changed to a later time. Schildhouse proposed 7 p.m.

That was one of several agenda requests Schildhouse had Feb. 11 after a heated exchange between him and Darrell Beck, board president.

Schildhouse complained at the start of the meeting that an agenda request he submitted Feb. 4 was not included on the meeting’s agenda. Instead, he said, the request led to a note in his  director’s mailbox and four or five phone calls, one between Beck and General Manager David Barnum, that determined the item should not be added to the agenda.

Beck refuted the claim that he and Barnum decided by phone the item should not be on the agenda.

Barnum told the

Sentinel

that Schildhouse’s request  had to do with board information and meeting procedures that are covered in Policy 1 of the district’s Legislative Code. Barnum said he put a copy of Policy 1 in each director’s mailbox and asked Schildhouse if he wanted the Legislative Code chapter addressed at a meeting. The general manager said there seems to be a misunderstanding. He also noted that directors must write an agenda memo on a requested item.

According to Barnum, he had a phone conversation with Beck on procedural aspects of meetings.

After Barnum gave his general manager’s report at the Feb. 11 meeting, which included information about the San Diego County Water Authority’s drought response, Schildhouse asked Beck if the Ramona district has adequate water supply to tackle a fire in dry conditions.

“I’m just asking for a statement of confidence,” Schildhouse said.

Beck deferred the question to Barnum, who said the board cannot discuss items that are not on the agenda. Schildhouse turned to legal counsel to get an opinion.

“It’s appropriate to ask a question on a subject that’s raised,” responded Ron Ball with Best Best & Krieger LLP, the district’s legal counsel.

After Schildhouse repeated his question, Beck said the board would move on to committee reports, which elicited a comment from Schildhouse that he did not get an answer.

“I’m running this meeting,” Beck responded, but allowed Barnum to provide an answer.

Barnum said there is plenty of water to put a fire out, but he added it depends on the fire and future conditions.

“If the drought continues, that could change,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, Schildhouse gave a list of agenda requests that included a presentation by legal counsel on board policies, what board members should be doing, rules and regulations for compensation, and what constitutes a quorum, as well as moving the meeting time so more members of the public can attend.

A later start time was requested in early 2013 by Division 2 Director Kit Kesinger, who has not been at a meeting since April 2013. Kesinger said he cannot make 2 p.m. meetings because he works in El Cajon. The time was changed from 4:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in July 2012. Kesinger was elected to a four-year term in 2010.

Barnum told the

Sentinel

the next board meeting, Feb. 25, will include a Policy 1 workshop. The board will meet at 2 p.m. at the Ramona Community Center, 434 Aqua Lane.

In other business:

•Directors awarded a construction contract to TC Construction Company Inc., which provided a $770,000 bid for site improvements for the Poway Pump Station Secondary Power Source Project. The project will run a natural gas line to the station and add a new pump that can run on both electricity and natural gas to provide a dependable power source if electricity goes out.

TC Construction came in $4,000 higher than the lowest bid, which did not have the minimum required experience, according to district staff. The project total is estimated at nearly $2 million.

•The board authorized a contract for Bartle Wells Associates to conduct a rate and fee study for the San Vicente Sewer Service Area. The study is expected to cost $20,000.

   
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