The Community Services District board of directors had a potentially costly meeting last week as a developer contested payment of fees, the manager of construction for the water treatment plant requested additional funds, and a contingent of residents asked for midge fly control measures.
Business conducted at the four-hour-plus meeting included approval of a budget for 2016-17 with no overall increase in the monthly bill for water, sewer, security, drainage and trash collection services.
CSD will negotiate claims on water plant work
Murietan Bob Kjome argues for additional payment to his company for work on the water treatment plant.
The board agreed to review and negotiate almost $178,000 in claims by Roebbelen Management Inc. for its work managing construction of the CSD’s $12.8 million water treatment plant, dedicated earlier this month.
A letter from Roebbelen lists 44 out-of-scope tasks it completed with CSD approval.
General Manager Darlene Gillum said she recommended the board deny Roebbelen’s request. “My feeling is we hired them as the professional construction contract services,” she said. “We don’t have the construction management skills on staff.”
Had Roebbelen identified out-of-scope work during the project, Gillum said, the CSD could have decided how to handle it, possibly performing the work itself or hiring another contractor.
Bob Kjome, a Roebbelen executive, 23-year Murieta resident and former member of the CSD board, argued the company’s case.
“We think we did a great job,” he told the board. He said they had to update a decade-old design and modify it for new technology before work could start. He said Roebbelen wasn’t certain the project could be built in the tight timeframe, and the company advised CSD of that.
“There are several reasons why this project took a lot longer than we expected it to take,” he said. “And that’s been hashed out over several board meetings, several internal meetings, and I’ve even had my name slandered in the River Valley Times as a result of that. I always believe in taking the high road, and I haven’t responded to any editorials and made any complaints about that.”
His voice choked as he said, “I believe strongly in doing the right thing will always produce the right results. We kept our head down and we executed the terms of this agreement in accordance with our contract.”
It was difficult to close the books on the project with the two major trade contractors who had done the work, Kjome said. The companies – which he said were “pushed hard for 12 months; they put in overtime” – claimed they were owed $341,000 for extended overhead costs, he said.
“We ended up negotiating about $184,000 to get them to go away, and to say we finished the project,” Kjome said. “Those two contractors agreed to it, and as a result, we have a $178,000 bust in the original guaranteed maximum budget.”
When the CSD refused to help with the unexpected costs, Kjome said Roebbelen toted up all the change-order work it had done for the project. Such work is explicitly outside of a guaranteed contract, he said, so Roebbelen wanted to be paid for the tasks.
The out-of-scope work listed by Roebbelen carries a total cost of $177,866.
“If you think about a big, government, public-works project that was ramrodded through the design system, having an overage of just over 1 percent is a good project,” Kjome said. “And avoiding any claims or lawsuits is also a good project.
“Did it take longer than we expected? Sure. Did we think it might happen? Heck, yes.”
Jerry Pasek, board president, asked about the process for identifying work that was out of scope. Kjome said these pieces of work were approved by CSD at weekly meetings and identified as change orders. He said Roebbelen was trying to get the project up to speed and keep it there.
The other four directors expressed the desire to pay any bill that CSD owes, and two chided Roebbelen for its lack of communication. Board comments directed staff to negotiate a settlement.
The plant was funded by North and South developers and the CSD.
“Roebbelen did perform per their contract. It was a very tight schedule from the start of the project,” Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, said in response to a question. “As Bob (Kjome) had indicated, this project was on an expedited path from the get-go. Making it succeed, where we’re at today, was an excellent accomplishment.”
Asked if the Roebbelen request is reasonable, Siebensohn said, “I believe there’s some negotiation that needs to take place. If I would have ventured a guess from the start of this project, I’m surprised it’s not more than where it’s at right now, to be honest with you.”
Midge fly petition with 85 signatures presented
The board heard from the ad-hoc committee that has been working with the Rancho Murieta Association and community members to solve the problem of midge flies at Laguna Joaquin.
Tony Avampato of Colina Lane, accompanied by about 10 neighbors, presented a petition with 85 signatures asking CSD to use a granular version of the liquid insecticide already in use. The granular version is heavier and falls to the lake bottom, where it can be ingested by the insect larvae and is supposed to be more effective. It’s also more expensive.
The midge flies have been a summertime problem for residents around Laguna Joaquin for years. Almost every year, complaints have been brought to the CSD, which handles the community’s water. It has responded with a series of four treatments per year, which are of uncertain effectiveness – some neighbors say they work, though briefly, and some say they don’t work at all.
Director Mike Martel said he used to walk around Laguna Joaquin, but he stopped last summer because of the bug swarms. “I tell you, you couldn’t walk,” he said. “It was horrible.”
President Jerry Pasek suggested the issue maybe should be addressed by townhouse residents instead of expecting the entire membership to fund the solution. He also suggested since the lake bottom is legally the property of the RMA, maybe that body should be on the hook too.
“I’m going to stop that right now,” Director Mark Pecotich interrupted. In 2010 and 2011, he got bounced between the CSD and RMA boards as he tried to get someone to address the scum-covered detention basin on the South known as Lost Lake.
“I went through the same exact thing that you’re going through right now ... and it drove me absolutely crazy, standing on that podium,” he said, while also echoing Avampato’s concerns about property values. “... So I defend what you guys are trying to do right now for the benefit of our community, and I’m not worried about it only pertaining to a couple of people who live around the lake.”
Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, said one treatment with the granular chemical would cost $11,000. The liquid version, which CSD has used for years, costs about half that much for four applications.
Avampato acknowledged it’s not clear how many applications it will take, but no one expects to eradicate the midge fly. “That’s not going to happen,” he said. “We’re trying to get those three or four months down to a manageable level.”
Last week, at the committee’s suggestion, 400 catfish and 200 bluefish were added to the lake, funded by the RMA and Murieta Townhouses Inc.
Larry Shelton, an RMA director who’s serving as co-chair of the committee with CSD Director Betty Ferraro, told the board he’s convinced “the granular is really the only solution.” To address the cost, he proposed a limited number of applications, at the prime problem times of year, targeting one-quarter or one-third of the lake, where the midge fly larvae are most numerous. He said this would reduce the per-application cost to a fraction of the $11,000 cited.
The board wrapped up 45 minutes of discussion by agreeing to buy $2,500 or $3,000 worth of the granular product this month for one application. Next month, in the new fiscal year, the CSD will be able to draw on a new year’s budget.
The ad-hoc committee will hold its next meeting 10 a.m. Monday at the RMA Building.
County development meetings will be open to public
The ongoing series of county-run development meetings, planned to be closed to the public, will be open after all, starting with a session at 10 a.m. Thursday. But be forewarned: The meetings aren’t aimed at gathering public input; they’re multi-hour working sessions focusing on different aspects of development. Public input is not part of the process.
The first meeting, held June 3, concentrated on the meeting rules. Thursday’s meeting will address technical aspects of the project and public services such as water and sewer and road circulation and access.
The county plans to hold all the meetings at the CSD Building, but if attendance exceeds the room size, the location may be changed.
Developer disputes water fees for hotel
Developers agree to pay fees when they negotiate with CSD for services. John Sullivan of Cosumnes River Land LLC is disputing how some fees were calculated for the hotel being built across from Murieta Plaza.
General Manager Darlene Gillum calculated community facilities fees for water supply augmentation and capital improvement based on district code. For the inn, they totaled $293,146. A balance of $173,644 remains after a $119,901 credit for recycled water system construction by the inn.
A water supply augmentation fee and a capital improvement fee are one-time charges that come due when a water permit is issued.
Sullivan calculated a net amount of $25,000 is owed for the hotel, maintaining that district code for computing the fee “has no relationship to the water use and it has no relationship to the water that has to be augmented for the use....”
CSD President Jerry Pasek asked, “When do you need the permits?”
“A month ago,” Sullivan replied, adding, “I would suggest an interim solution that we pay for the meter, we pay the $25,000 net that we’ve calculated and that we hook up the meter and we have pressurized service but we don’t issue the final permit because we’ll have four months to work through this issue.”
Pasek agreed, but Gillum said she had a problem with including the $25,000. Instead, she suggested the board vote to have the general manager collect all other fees that are due when the permit is issued and the water meter is installed for the hotel, and work to settle the water augmentation and capital improvement issues. The vote was unanimous.
Board honors retiring gate officer
Melissa Rehurek-Bennett on one of her last nights at the North Gate.
The board adopted a resolution honoring Melissa Rehurek-Bennett for 16 years of service as a gate officer, most of that time on the graveyard shift. On duty the following night at the North Gate, Rehurek-Bennett explained she hadn’t attended the CSD meeting because it took place “right in the middle of my sleep time.”
That will change soon. Her last shift is Thursady. It starts at 11 p.m. with a farewell pizza party.
On Sunday, she leaves for Kansas with her daughter, son-in-law and 4-month-old grandson, Wyatt.
After discovering “a nice, little community” with a lower cost of living and an active arts and crafts scene when she visited a friend in Kansas last year, the California native decided to retire while she’s “still young enough to enjoy my life and not have to worry.” She’s looking forward to all the time she’ll be able to spend with her grandson.
As for her time here, “it went by so fast,” Rehurek-Bennett said. She recalled how supportive her co-workers were after she lost her husband to cancer, the resident who would drop off a mocha for her on a hot summer day, and the Kiwanis volunteers who make sure security officers get a pancake breakfast on the Fourth of July.
“I enjoy it here. I enjoy the people,” she said.
Parks Committee role revisited
The board discussed guidelines for the Parks Committee that are being developed and a mission statement defining the CSD role.
This month the Parks Committee met and voted to put the Greens Park, budgeted at $336,000, out for bids. Committee members also discussed CSD plans for a fee study.
At the Parks meeting, John Sullivan, a development representative on the committee, estimated there is about $3.75 million “left to collect” for parks and said he’d like to know what projects could be funded. CSD General Manager Darlene Gillum said the information would be needed for the nexus study the board has directed staff to do.
If the nexus study says you need $12 million, what do you plan on doing with that information? asked Rancho Murieta Association General Manager Greg Vorster. He pointed out that the Park Development Agreements “lock in how much we can charge and how much we can increase that amount by.”
“We would collect the money and then send the money to you,” Gillum said.
“It sounds great to me. I’m not sure John’s going to appreciate this,” Vorster replied. He asked Sullivan what his response would be if the CSD nexus study said community parks fees should be $4,000 per lot. “Probably not going to amend the agreement,” Sullivan replied.
The CSD assumed its most active role on the Parks Committee during the pedestrian bridge project. The RMA asked the district to be the lead agency for the project in 2004. Dick Brandt, CSD legal counsel at the time, said the CSD might qualify as lead agency because of its role in establishing the community's parks and its participation on the Parks Committee.
As a result, the Parks Committee updated the parks master plan to include changes made over the 14 years of its existence, which allowed the CSD to demonstrate its project approval authority. Changes included the river crossing location, relocation of a planned community swimming pool, merging two community centers in the parks matrix into one, moving the Greens Park to a 20-acre wetlands area, and the acquisition of acreage below Lake Clementia Park at no cost for a tree mitigation area instead of a community park.
In other business
- The board approved spending up to $164,000 to reimburse Solar City for SMUD power panel upgrades required to integrate the solar system for the wastewater treatment plant. Solar City initially estimated the cost at about $50,000. The solar system installation is underway for the wastewater plant and the layout for the solar array at the water treatment plant is being worked on.
- The budget and rates for 2016-17 were approved by the board. President Jerry Pasek noted the board vote to accept a budget with no net increase in the monthly residential bills qualified General Manager Darlene Gillum for a $5,000 bonus.
- The CSD began supplying recycled water to the Country Club on June 3 for golf course irrigation.
- The board approved payment of $116,575.95 to GE Zenon Environmental Corporation for the sales tax due on the GE portion of the water treatment plant project.