Marge McDonald, a Director for the Community Services District of the East Valley, made her way west for the City Council of Big Bear Lake’s meeting last night; she and constituents from Sugarloaf approached Council to appeal the charter of the Department of Water and Power which, at present, only allows for Big Bear Lake residents to serve on the DWP Board of Commissioners, though water service is provided to neighborhoods that extend beyond the City. As McDonald said to Council during the Public Comment portion of the June 22 meeting, “For over two decades I’ve stood before this Council.” This, she said, was her second trip to the podium regarding DWP, and this round on behalf of DWP customers in Sugarloaf, Fawnskin and Erwin Lake. “I know there’s something wrong with this charter,” she pointed out, “and I know it’s something this Board can change. The three areas should have representation.” McDonald’s sentiments were seconded by Bob Ybarra, who said, “I think it’s time, with this Council, to do something right for this Valley. You need to start thinking outside the box and include people from other areas. The right thing to do is have representation for the areas that DWP serves.” As Council is not in a position to comment on non-agendized topics, they held on reference to DWP until addressing the water company’s 2009/2010 fiscal year budget, which was on the agenda; in the meantime, City Council has scheduled interviews for Big Bear Lake applicants to the DWP Board of Commissioners (and the Planning Commission) for July 7. Though the DWP’s budget was on the Consent Calendar for quick approval, Councilmember Michael Karp pulled it for discussion, noting, “I want to be sure that none of this [budget] is overinflated, bloated, whatever you want to call it… but lean and mean.” The City’s Chief Operations Officer Kathleen Smith, who oversees financials for the City and, given the charter, also the DWP, explained, “You’re incorporating their budget, not approving the budget.” As further explained by City Attorney Steve Deitsch, City Council does not endorse or approve the budget of the DWP, it is simply incorporated into the overall City budget. Given extensive discussion between Councilmembers, Liz Harris amended her motion to reflect that “Council is incorporating the budget, recognizing the Council is not approving the budget and, further, that Council is concerned about what is perceived as excessive travel.” The DWP budget was ultimately incorporated by a 3-2 vote, with both Darrell Mulvihill and Karp offering the dissenting votes. The DWP has since adopted their budget in a Board of Commissioners meeting held this morning–and, just a note, additional travel in this year’s budget is said to accommodate DWP staff training and certifications that had been deferred.
A Message for the Big Bear Community from the San Bernardino County Operational Areas Emergency Operations Center