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The Community Services District board approved a notice for proposed rate increases and backed a 45-mph speed limit on Jackson Road at its meeting last week.

Board sets bill increases around 3 percent

The worst-case CSD budget for 2018-19 calls for an average monthly bill increase of 3.31 percent for homeowners behind the gates, 2.99 percent for Village residents and 1.9 percent for vacant or unmetered lots. That would increase the average bills to $176.43, $134.59 and $30.10 respectively for water, sewer, drainage, security and trash services.

These numbers will appear in notices sent to ratepayers this week. It’s possible these charges could be lower with the start of the fiscal year in July, but they cannot be higher.

The budget was presented at Wednesday’s meeting by Eric Thompson, district controller, in his first budget presentation to the board. In the recent past, the task was handled by Darlene Thiel, the former general manager.

Among the drivers Thompson listed for the budget were the presumption of no residential or commercial connections in the coming year, which he said may be overstating the case, and the addition of two new staffers – one in administration and one in water, sewer and maintenance.

The board discussed having a budget workshop in the coming weeks but did not set a date.

Board supports 45 mph speed limit

The board approved sending a letter endorsing the reduction of speed limits on Jackson Road from 55 to 45 mph as it passes through the community.

Director Jerry Pasek said the area proposed for reduction – from Lone Pine Drive on the west to Ione Road on the east – might be larger than needed. Maybe the Van Vleck Ranch entrance might be a better eastern end, he said. 

Director John Merchant, who asked that the item be on the agenda, was out of town, but he attended this part of the meeting by phone. After the other directors made their comments, Merchant was asked if he had anything to add. “No,” he said. “I’m voting for it.” 

Pasek suggested the CSD’s letter include the accident history along Jackson Road, which was developed by neighbor Nancy Miller and Rancho Murieta Association Director Joanne Brandt , who presented the idea to the RMA last month. The RMA board approved sending a letter, as did county Supervisor Sue Frost.

Miller, who was among the dozen people in the audience, offered to share their data with the CSD. “I believe that the community will be pleased by your decision to endorse this by writing your letter,” she told the board. Director Les Clark cautioned Murietans that there's a process involved in making a change like this.

There was no vote, just a direction to staff to draft the letter.

Reaching agreement on a sewer dispute

The board resolved a dispute that began with a lengthy discussion at February’s meeting, addressing Lobo Drive resident Bill Kelly’s claim that a sewer line repair near his home should be the CSD’s responsibility, not his.

General Manager Mark Martin offered a presentation, including photos taken in the sewer line, that he said shows the break is in part of the line that, under district code, is the customer’s responsibility.

Kelly didn’t agree with Martin’s interpretation of the images. After 45 minutes of discussion, Kelly accepted an offer proposed by Director Morrison Graf to dig up the line and establish for certain where the break is located. If the break proves to be Kelly’s responsibility, under the agreement, he will pay the costs of digging too. Kelly said he offered that solution from the beginning.

Meetings will be adjusted to backload key issues

Addressing a suggestion by neighbor Ted Hart that the board move its meeting start times from 5 to 6 p.m., allowing more Murietans to participate, the board instead said it would try putting housekeeping items in the first hour of the meeting and making key issues timed agenda items no earlier than 6 p.m. If that’s not sufficient, a 5:30 or 6 p.m. meeting start will be considered, the board said.

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Info on proposed CSD hires

CSD General Manager Mark Martin shares info about the proposed new staff positions from the budget discussion document in the board packet for its meeting:

The new Director of Business Operations position is expected to help free the General Manager from day to day detailed administrative tasks, allowing him to tackle higher level issues of most concern to the Board and residents, provide an operational backup for the General Manager, and retain institutional knowledge across all District functions in a manner that assists the General Manager or in the event of a turnover of General Manager.  This Director would assist the General Manager on special projects, and oversee daily functions of finance, payroll, human resources, IT, and customer service. This position could also be assigned special projects working with the Director of Field Operations to help that individual gain capacity. An additional focus would be to help organize and manage District files/records to ensure proper archives are kept and updated.

The requested position of Utility Worker III would be partially focused on stormwater management and drainage and assist with water and sewer responsibilities. Greater regulatory requirements have created a demand for this added position. Like the Director of Business Operations, this position would help gain additional administrative capacity for the Director of Field Operations to focus on the regulatory requirements of water and sewer and management of the overall Field Operations function. Some of the specific responsibilities envisioned are MS4 permit compliance, Illicit discharge detection, and elimination inspections, public outreach involvement and participation, construction site stormwater runoff control, stormwater pollution prevention, post construction stormwater management, water quality monitoring in detention basins and outfalls, and addressing emerging stormwater regulations as they arise.

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