On the Agenda: City Council Discusses Amendment to City Charter That Only Allows Big Bear Lake Residents on DWP Board

bblcity-thumbAt the behest of DWP customers residing outside of Big Bear Lake, including CSD Director Marge McDonald, the City Council of Big Bear Lake addressed the city charter, as it pertains to appointment requirements for the Department of Water and Power’s Board of Commissioners. City attorney Stephen Deitsch outlined that the charter, amended in 1985, would allow for a change in DWP Board provisions, though noted at Council’s July 13 meeting, “Decisions on the DWP Board could expose the City’s General Fund—though that’s hypothetical, the City might be exposed.” A second point on amending the requirements for the DWP Board, which is appointed by Council, is that a majority vote of the Big Bear Lake electorate would have to take place, once the Council, or a non-Council “Charter Commission” (with a petition signed by 15% of the City’s voters) gets it on the ballot. Leonard Chaidez, a Sugarloaf resident serviced by the DWP, told Council, “Over 40% of people who pay your bills for DWP have no say in water policy. You are doing the right thing, at least in putting it on the agenda.” Recognizing the DWP’s customers in Fawnskin, Erwin Lake and Sugarloaf, Councilmember Liz Harris said, “It’s clear to me that folks outside the City of Big Bear Lake feel unrepresented [but] if there is any financial connection to the City in any way, I think we should keep the relationship we have.” The DWP’s General Manager Joel Dickson, who has been with the agency for nine months (and was, in fact, working for Golden State Water when the DWP was sold), said that in future public meetings, the DWP would outline projects, by area—he also added that, though budget concerns have taken most of his time since joining the DWP, he has met with customers in the outlying areas, which also includes Rim Forest. “DWP has paid attention to each area,” Dickson pointed out, “and has done system replacement in each area. I think the DWP is not neglecting these areas.” The public meetings Dickson referenced are because, he said, “We will be coming before Council in the near future to request a rate increase.” Mayor Rick Herrick and Council suggested that the DWP look into the charter amendment that would allow all DWP customers to apply for appointment to the DWP Board, with Mayor ProTem Bill Jahn reiterating, “The only responsibility this Council has over DWP is approval, or denial, of rates. We don’t have any oversight responsibilities.” Though no action was taken in the hour-long discussion, Councilmember Michael Karp wrapped the conversation with his sentiments: “I, for one, encourage the DWP to consider if that would be advantageous to amend the charter.”

bblcity-thumbAt the behest of DWP customers residing outside of Big Bear Lake, including CSD Director Marge McDonald, the City Council of Big Bear Lake addressed the city charter, as it pertains to appointment requirements for the Department of Water and Power’s Board of Commissioners. City attorney Stephen Deitsch outlined that the charter, amended in 1985, would allow for a change in DWP Board provisions, though noted at Council’s July 13 meeting, “Decisions on the DWP Board could expose the City’s General Fund—though that’s hypothetical, the City might be exposed.” A second point on amending the requirements for the DWP Board, which is appointed by Council, is that a majority vote of the Big Bear Lake electorate would have to take place, once the Council, or a non-Council “Charter Commission” (with a petition signed by 15% of the City’s voters) gets it on the ballot. Leonard Chaidez, a Sugarloaf resident serviced by the DWP, told Council, “Over 40% of people who pay your bills for DWP have no say in water policy. You are doing the right thing, at least in putting it on the agenda.” Recognizing the DWP’s customers in Fawnskin, Erwin Lake and Sugarloaf, Councilmember Liz Harris said, “It’s clear to me that folks outside the City of Big Bear Lake feel unrepresented [but] if there is any financial connection to the City in any way, I think we should keep the relationship we have.” The DWP’s General Manager Joel Dickson, who has been with the agency for nine months (and was, in fact, working for Golden State Water when the DWP was sold), said that in future public meetings, the DWP would outline projects, by area—he also added that, though budget concerns have taken most of his time since joining the DWP, he has met with customers in the outlying areas, which also includes Rim Forest. “DWP has paid attention to each area,” Dickson pointed out, “and has done system replacement in each area. I think the DWP is not neglecting these areas.” The public meetings Dickson referenced are because, he said, “We will be coming before Council in the near future to request a rate increase.” Mayor Rick Herrick and Council suggested that the DWP look into the charter amendment that would allow all DWP customers to apply for appointment to the DWP Board, with Mayor ProTem Bill Jahn reiterating, “The only responsibility this Council has over DWP is approval, or denial, of rates. We don’t have any oversight responsibilities.” Though no action was taken in the hour-long discussion, Councilmember Michael Karp wrapped the conversation with his sentiments: “I, for one, encourage the DWP to consider if that would be advantageous to amend the charter.”

Related posts:

  1. City and DWP to Discuss City Charter Amendment for Board Requirements
  2. Sugarloaf Residents Approach City Council to Question the DWP Charter, Prior to Council’s Vote to Incorporate DWP Budget Into City Budget
  3. City Council Forms Sub-Committee to Potentially Amend City Charter, Allow All DWP Customers to Be Eligible for Board Appointment