Here is BCWA Chairman Allen Klepper's December report to the Town Councils. I have made some comments in italics.
— Marina Peterson
BCWA activities/actions during December concentrated in several specific areas:
Preparation and delivery of a PowerPoint Presentation to Town Councils detailing the efforts and process by which the Board adopted a new Strategic Plan, a 20-year Capital Plan, and a supporting Revenue Plan, to be funded by a proposed multi-year water rate increases. These plans included the background, opportunities and difficulties encountered in the past, and the need for action to improve the system’s water quality and the authority’s ability to more effectively manage its resources.
(Among many other things, the "improvements" include hiring of four additional employees which most critics feel are unnecessary. When Ms. Marchand was asked to expound on the great sacrifices that the Union made during the last contract negotiation if was pretty rought going. For starters, most of the board now says that they did not realize that the contract included a "no-layoff" clause for employees that affects all but 3 employees.)
The first of several water rate hearings was held at the Bristol High School. A second is scheduled for 1/3/13 at the Warren Town Hall, and a third on 1/9/13 at the Authority Offices in Warren, after which the Board is expected to vote.
(The board has made it clear that they do not intend to heed the pleas of Bristol and Warren Town Councilors who are against the rate hike as it stands and who feel the public needs more time to ask questions. The ball falls in the lap of the Town Councilors at this point. Will they take any action or will they continue to be pushed around by "appointed" directors?)
The issue of the prior-state-promised $6.9 million continues. Despite conflicting
information on whether or not these funds can be reoriented from the WTP upgrade and pipeline replacement to the interconnection with East Providence through to the Pawtucket Water Supply, vigorous efforts continue to find a way to protect these funds and preclude our customers from having to pay. In conjunction with that effort, the authority will provide resolutions and seek
Town Councils’ passages supporting the reorientation of the secondary supply.
(Note that this 6.9 million was/is dedicated to the completion of the Shad Pipeline and consists of funds voted on by the voters. It cannot simply be diverted to another cause. Before any attempt to re-assign these funds is made there needs to be a forensic audit of where and how the original Bristol County Water Authority Act funds were spent. This has NEVER been done. It would appear to me that it would take another voter referendum to change the use of these funds.)
Board members brought to the Town Councils attention the fact that the re-filed
legislation modifying the operating rules for BCWA needed attention to match those that had originally been submitted. It is understood that this has been corrected and Board consensus is to formally vote changes in our policies and rules to match the legislation once enacted.
(Actually, I brought this to the BCWA board's attention at a BCWA meeting. I believe it was in November.)
In the matter of Legal Services, after rating seven firms, interviewing five, re-rating those five, winnowing to two, and much discussion, the Board voted to retain Attorney Sandra Mack of Cameron & Mittleman LLP, as general counsel. The arrangement will continue the use of a budget cap as well as incorporate firm associates for many of the day-to-day legal requirements.
(This is a huge slap in the face to ratepayers who are well aware of the poor decisions that have been made my Ms. Mack. Think back to Chairman Janetto's remarks in an interview with Jim Hummell on why they wanted to sue the East Bay Four. He says "She (Mack) keeps us out of hot water." A truer statement could not be made. She has the "institutional" knolwedge regarding all of the misdeeds of the past and she is there to be sure that they do NOT surface in any kind of forensic audit. Especially since some of the "old guard" would probably be implicated.
And... this was decided at not one, but TWO non-conforming meetings that vioalated the open meetings law!)
Please note that this report contains my views of actions and considerations and is not an official publication of the BCWA.