This week’s Big Bear Lake City Council agenda included a first reading of an ordinance to modify fees—not rates–for the Department of Water and Power, including capacity and meter hookup charges for new customers, as well as the updating of four of 13 administrative fees (which only account for about 1% of the utility’s total revenue). In a presentation before Council on January 11, the DWP’s General Manager Joel Dickson explained, “As you know, the DWP has a variety of charges, and we review them periodically…to make sure they’re fair.” Dickson walked Council through a Power Point presentation, in which the specifics of a detailed study by outside contractor HDR outlined modifications to some charges, including capacity charges; per Dickson, “Capacity charges are to make fair the charges when we add new customers to the system, so new growth pays for their impact to the system.” The proposed capacity charge per EDU (or equivalent dwelling unit) will now incorporate water demand offset and supplemental water charges and, noted Dickson, “so, basically, this fee is going down.” The DWP has also proposed that some administrative fees be based, case-by-case, on staff time and material, rather than a flat fee, which would serve as a more appropriate billing method. As these details were not included in the agenda packet for Councils’ review, Mayor Liz Harris said, “I would like the opportunity to study the material you presented tonight.” That said, City Manager Jeff Mathieu proposed that Dickson’s Power Point presentation be incorporated into an updated staff report to thereby allow City Council members full consideration before voting on the proposed ordinance outlining DWP fee modifications at their January 25 meeting.
Council also moved to table an item from the Consent Calendar, which was to award the contract for the Tahoe Drive sewer main replacement project, for which nearly $1.3 million in federal funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have been designated. Council was prepared to award the contract to T.B.U. Inc., the lowest responsible bidder, having submitted a bid under $500,000. However, given protest from Bruce Perry, president of Genesis Construction, who claims they should receive the contract as they were present at a pre-bid conference, and T.B.U. was not, Council held the otherwise procedural item for discussion. Jeff Ballinger, legal counsel for the City, said, “This protest is without legal merit. This conference was non-mandatory.” Councilmember Rick Herrick asked if the conversation would be more appropriate in closed session, while Council’s Michael Karp suggested that they go with legal counsel’s expertise, move forward with awarding the contract to T.B.U. and allow the project to get underway. City Manager Mathieu reiterated that the pre-conference contractor meeting for the 12 bidders was a mere technicality, making the protest without merit; though in a 3-1 vote (Harris, Herrick and Darrell Mulvihill in favor; Karp opposed; and Bill Jahn absent), Council moved to table the decision until their January 25 meeting, at which time the contract for the Tahoe sewer replacement project will be awarded.
The City Council did not vote on the bail schedule related to parking violations, as the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deemed it unnecessary. However, as it had been on the agenda as a Public Hearing, Mayor Harris asked for public comment. There was none, so Council moved on to the next item.
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