The Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) Board of Directors gave General Manager Ken Rock the green light to continue pursuing the purchase of three acres adjacent to the current District headquarters at its May 1 meeting.
Rock has sent a letter of intent to the bank that owns the foreclosed property expressing a desire to purchase the property.
"We don't really know what the property's worth or availability will be in the future," Rock told the Board. "This is a calculated move with a potentially big upside and not much risk downside. It is a savvy caretaking move."
He added that the additional property would allow expansion of the District's current parking lot and building in the future. "We will find a potential value for this much quicker than I thought."
"It certainly makes more sense to put our money there than in a money market account," Ted Miller, Board member stated.
The Board agreed in a 5-0 vote that Rock should move forward and interview three commercial appraisers, selecting one to determine a proper price for the property.
"We can't pay more than the appraised price," Miller reminded the Directors.
"We don't have to grow that much to outgrow this space," Rock remarked.
The Board of Directors also authorized Rock to pursue hiring one to two temporary laborers to assist in replacing defective Vanguard pipe laterals.
"In April alone, our crew fixed 59 laterals," Rock commented. However, he explained that with holidays, vacations, and hot weather approaching, he didn't want to impede the progress already made in repairing the defective laterals. "You've already approved this for the next fiscal year (that starts July 1) but I want to start it sooner."
"Our field supervisors are feeding information to our accountant and we're going to make periodic transfers for labor costs, equipment purchases, and contractual pavement costs from the Vanguard settlement fund to the general fund," Rock explained.
The District recently received a $2.8 million legal settlement over the faulty pipe laterals that will cover the costs of repairs.
Wes Smith, the District's accountant, explained that the Board would receive a statement of transferred funds whenever it happened.
Kenyon Leavitt insisted that whomever is hired understand that the position is temporary not to exceed 1,000 hours and that there is no promise of a permanent full-time position with the District.
Aaron Bunker, Chief Hydrologist, explained to the Directors that it would be better to stagger the hiring of the two temporary workers to ensure overlap at the beginning and the end of the employment period.
The Board voted 5-0 in favor of the action.
Smith provided an investment report and analysis of a recent change in investment strategies that he recommended and the Board adopted several months ago. Previously, almost all of the District's investment funds were managed by BNY Mellon and placed in U.S. Treasury or Agency instruments.
The current yield on those types of investments is "about one-half of one percent," Smith advised.
He placed approximately one million dollars of the District's reserve funds with Wells Fargo Investment Services, putting the money in Certificates of Deposit with staggered maturity dates. The CD interest rates vary from 1.1 percent
to 1.85 percent.
"Moving from BNY Mellon to Wells Fargo will result in $5,750 more interest income," Smith commented. "That's not a huge number but that's just on one portion of the total pool that we're dealing with in terms of our investments."
"We have $10 million in our reserves. As this comes up, we're going to realize these improvements every year," Rock added.
"We're limited by NRS (Nevada Revised Statues) as to where we can put our money. We're doing the best we can within the scope of NRS," Smith explained.
Sandra Ramaker, Board member, praised Smith's work saying, "This is one more reason why I think it's great to have an in-house accountant that can work on these things for us."
The Board of Directors approved on a 5-0 vote to increase the District's lien service charge from $65 to $100 to "reflect actual administrative costs." Rock says that his Staff tallied up the actual costs "and it is about $95." The charge is applied for attaching a lien to a property for non-payment of District charges.
Also on a 5-0 vote, the Directors approved a new $5.44 monthly fee associated with Ordinance No. 3 that controls the secondary water system in Bunkerville.
Rock explained that "some customers have been requesting to have their secondary water service disconnected at the start of winter and reconnected in spring, to save the $15.88 monthly service charge. Some of our potable water customers who are seasonal residents have asked to have their water shut down in the summer," he added.
"This is just a nominal charge for field and administrative time as well as the cost of maintaining the infrastructure, whether or not water is requested at a residence. The monthly locked meter fee is $5.44 and there is a $25 reconnection fee if a water supply is shut off for less than 30 days."
Rather than give final approval to revisions to the District's Cross Connection and Backflow Control Implementation Plan, the Board asked Rock to make revisions to the plan and "bring it back to us in June."
Some commercial customers have not been properly repairing backflow controls on their water hook-ups which could potentially contaminate the District's distribution system.
Rock explained that water service could not automatically be cut off to non-complying customers because of fire control concerns.
Rather, he wants to send warning letters to those violating the policy and then, if repairs are not made, the District will make them and bill the customer.
"Our rates will be significantly higher than most all local qualified private plumbers, and we'll include our administrative costs. This should provide incentive for the owners to address the compliance issue themselves, while allowing them an alternative if they just can't get around to calling in a repair person."
While the Board agreed with the proposed changes, they requested legal counsel review the plan for total compliance with Nevada Revised Statues.
During the Board member comments, Bunkerville representative Rich Bowler said, "I had a couple people castigate me about not working with the City [of Mesquite] on painting the water tank. Let's be clear. We're more than happy to work with the City or any company that wants to beautify the tank. Unfortunately, no one has come to the table."