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VVWD Board Approves Policy Changes, Hires New Lobbyist
Posting Date: 06/20/2012
By Barbara Ellestad
VVWD Board approved a one year contract with lobbyist Warren Hardy at its June 19 meeting. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.
Two changes to the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) Cross Connection and Backflow Policy were approved by the Board of Directors at their June 19 meeting along with hiring a new State lobbyist, approving budget augmentations, and refunding $15,473 to a customer.
John Zarate, District staff member, explained to the Directors that by adding certified testers who belong to the American Backflow Prevention Association, in addition to those who belong to the American Waterworks Association, the District could increase the number of technicians able to testbackflow equipment. That could make the industry more competitive and give ratepayers who require annual equipment testing more choices.
This type of equipment prevents water from backing up through a system and possibly contaminating public water supplies if not repaired.
The second major change to the policy will allow the District to test backflow equipment or make repairs on the systems and bill customers at almost twice the rate as private companies would charge.
Zarate explained that most of the time the District doesn't have a problem with customers complying with annual equipment testing requirements. "On occasion we have property owners who feel it unnecessary or don't want to comply. They try to wait it out or see if we'll take care of it. We want to create incentives for these businesses to take care of it themselves. It costs the District and ratepayers more money if we do the testing for these businesses."
The proposed device-testing charges vary based on the size of the water meter servicing the customer. For a small meter, private certified testers would charge between $75 and $100, Zarate told the Board. "We would charge $225. We want to make it steep. We want to get their attention."
He mentioned that the District has a list of 12 to 15 certified testers available to businesses in the area. "By allowing the additional testers from the American Backflow Prevention Association, that will increase the number of testers businesses can choose from. We're not trying to take them for a ride, but we want the businesses to be responsible."
Sandra Ramaker, Board member, asked why the District would not want to be responsible for the testing. "Most places are."
Zarate explained that some Water Districts take on the responsibility for testing the backflow equipment while others don't.
"We are concerned about the liability if we become responsible for someone else's equipment," General Manager Ken Rock explained.
The Board voted 4-0 to accept the changes to the policy. Board President Karl Gustaveson was absent from the meeting.
Board of Directors voted 3-1 to hire Warren Hardy as the District's state lobbyist with a monthly retainer of $2,500.
Randy Robison of Capital Strategies has served as the VVWD lobbyist for almost 15 years. He has accepted a position with Century Link, as its Director of Government Affairs. Century Link is a private enterprise that provides telephone, Internet, and television access to businesses and individuals.
Hardy served as the Board's original lobbyist in the early 1990s when theDistrict was first formed. He also served as a Senator in the Nevada State Legislature for six years, leaving there in 2009. He previously worked for the Association of Building Contractors.
"Some of the issues you're dealing with now are issues Warren dealt with years ago," Robison told the Board. "You won't miss a beat. He's up to speed on water issues."
The Board voted 3-1 to sign a professional services contract with Hardy for the period July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. Ramaker was the lone nay vote saying, "I don't know Warren at all or a lot about him. Sometimes I would like to see us start fresh and hire someone who hasn't been doing this."
The Board quickly voted 4-0 to refund $15,473 to a customer, Anthem Park Mesquite, LLC, who was overcharged because of a software error in the billing program.
Rock explained that the billing error was caused by a computer glitch between the meter reading software and the billing software. "The bill was 10 times higher than it should have been. The software added an extra zero to the bill. This is the only one we've seen."
The Directors approved, on a 4-0 vote, formal budget augmentation documents for the current fiscal year that are required by Nevada Revised Statutes.
Wes Smith, VVWD Accountant, explained to the Board that "in some instances we've had expenses that went down and in other cases we had expenses that went up" through the past year. The most significant difference occurred in the Repairs & Maintenance expense category that Smith was revising downward by $260,000.
"We had some revenue categories that were way down and other revenues that were way up," Smith added. A decline in customers' water use, brought in $200,000 less than originally projected a year ago.
"We went from a projected net loss of $869,277 to an actual net gain of $2,334,223," he said.
Much of that difference is attributed to the $2.7 million dollar legal settlement the District received from Vanguard Piping in May.
Click here to access the budget augmentation documents for Revenues, Expenses, and Net Income.
Click here to access the budget augmentation documents for the Statement of Cash Flows.
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 I can't believe the VVWD. Hiring Hardy is just asking to go backwards into all the mess they are trying to get out of. Hardy works for himself, no one else and he is too closely related to contractors. Think about it -contractors. By: Bill
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 Just when I thought that the old-boy network of self-dealing insiders was starting to be rooted out, the VVWD takes a giant step backward. My faith in Ken Rock to make good decisions is severely diminished. Maybe we need to change the name to the Bunkerville Insiders Water District. By: John
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 Guess who Hardy is related to? Right. Half of Bunkerville. The other half are guys who do business with VVWD. Can you spell "stupid mistake"? Ken Rock should have his head examined. By: Paul
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 The VVWD accountant says “"We went from a projected net loss of $869,277 to an actual net gain of $2,334,223," he said. “Much of that difference is attributed to the $2.7 million dollar legal settlement the District received from Vanguard Piping in May.” I thought that money was supposed to be “set aside” or “escrowed” to fix the vanguard pipe damages now and in the future! THAT was what was represented to HOA’s and others who have had the “bad pipe” problems. It is now one month after receiving the money and it seems that it is already being used as part of the slush fund for the VVWD – doesn’t look like it took ‘em long to grab the $$$$ for other uses! Maybe it’s time for the HOA’s that represent the affected homeowners to “lawyer up” to make sure the people negatively affected by the bad pipe problems get the benefit of the legal settlement before it all disappears to pay Hardy Construction, Hardy Consulting, or Hardy Lobbying. By: justsayin2
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 To: JustSayin2
Please allow me to clarify your allegation "I thought that money was supposed to be “set aside” or “escrowed” to fix the vanguard pipe damages now and in the future! THAT was what was represented to HOA’s and others who have had the “bad pipe” problems. It is now one month after receiving the money and it seems that it is already being used as part of the slush fund for the VVWD – doesn’t look like it took ‘em long to grab the $$$$ for other uses!"
The Vanguard settlement has been "set aside" in a separate budget line item that is diligently being accounted for and only used to fix the 'bad pipe' problem. Wes Smith, the accountant, is providing a monthly list of expenditures from that money to the Board of Directors. He also is not making any transfers out of that fund to reimburse the general expenditure fund without the Board's consent.
There is no need, in my opinion, to get anyone riled up about mis-using those funds. The District has gone out of its way, way out of its way, to work with the HOAs and ensure the associations are treated fairly. Lots of people are watching that money, including this reporter, and aren't charging extraneous legal fees to do so.
However, the District must still account for the money in its budget documents. To do so otherwise would be the travesty. Because it is included in the documents, it is included in the 'bottom-line' numbers.
I intentionally included links to the two documents that the Board approved last night. Please print them off and peruse them.
Had I not made the statement that much of the change in the District's bottom line was due to the $2.7 million settlement, you would have wondered why such a drastic change.
By: Barbara Ellestad
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 Thanks Barbara By: Ted Miller
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 Guess our high hopes for the water district went down the drain. Hiring Warren Hardy proves it. When will the clutches of the local good old boy system ever release us taxpayers? Time to fire Rock who must now be considered useless. By: bobbiethompson
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 Barbara, Thanks for your comments. However, I DID review the documents you referenced in your article and they both clearly show the $2.7 Million legal settlement funds in the General Fund and have NO notations about its uses being restricted or reserved in any way. In fact, the quoted statement by the VVWD accountant of “We went from a projected net loss of $869,277 to an actual net gain of $2,334,223," he said. “Much of that difference is attributed to the $2.7 million dollar legal settlement the District received from Vanguard Piping in May.” basically implies that some of the money was used to offset a “net loss” in the operating budget and turn it into a “net gain”. The term “net loss” is typically used to describe income or loss from operations, not from one-time non-recurring events. Including the funds in a budget also implies their availability for general uses, thus the deposit of it in the “General Fund”. While many folks, including you and me, are watching what happens to the funds there is not yet, to my knowledge, any legal or contractual obligation for the VVWD to restrict their use of those funds. The HOA’s were told in early meetings that the VVWD would not object to putting the funds in an escrow account that was legally restricted as to it’s uses, but such has not been done yet. Why? I’m not trying to “rile anybody up”, just trying to point out that a binding restriction for the uses of the settlement funds has not been yet been accomplished. Yes, today the board of the VVWD is approving or disapproving uses of those funds, but is there anything restricting them in the future from deciding that the money is theirs to do with as they please? I would actually not have a problem with the VVWD reimbursing itself for the money they have actually spent doing repairs and financing the lawsuit but the balance should be set aside in a separate fund and budget instead of being lumped into the general fund. Non-recurring revenues, especially of this amoun By: Justsayin2
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 Hiring Hardy was a big mistake. Now I challenge the board to keep tabs on him and see what he produces for that monthly fee. My bet is he will do nothing. How about a monthly report from him to the board - IN WRITING. By: Stan
Posted Date: 06/20/2012 A monthly report is a good idea. Accountability Mr Rock, seemms like you're getting away from that. By: Charlie
Posted Date: 06/21/2012 To all of you "bashing" Ken Rock for hiring Hardy please review the story where it says "The Board voted 3-1 to sign a professional services contract with Hardy for the period July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. Ramaker was the lone nay vote". The Board hired Hardy, not Ken Rock. I have no idea what Mr. Rocks position is regarding this matter, but it is improper to chastise him for something he did not do! He may be just as disgusted with this decision as the rest of us! By: John
Posted Date: 06/21/2012 This is a bad decision. Hardy left the legislature in 2009 following ethical complaints. The water board needs to continue to improve its image in the eyes of the public and hiring Hardy clouds that progress and raises questions about the integrity of those who voted for Hardy. By: mmcgreer