1. Call to Order.
Directors Amoroso, Comstock, Godino, Siedman and Smith present; director Siedman presiding. Director Siedman noted that staff is attending the meeting by telephone.
3. Manager’s Report.
-- Update on the Terrace Avenue Bluff Stabilization Project.
Staff reported that a town meeting was held on May 9, 2015 to discuss this project, with a focus on raising the funds necessary to install “phase 1”, which is a repair of the road-level retaining walls. It is estimated that this project will extend the life of the road by 10-15 years and the project is essential to preserve the possibility of a full-bluff stabilization project. The meeting generated an extremely successful fundraising flurry: less than a week after the meeting, the town exceeded the fundraising goal of $450,000 and reported as such to the County. The Working Group is now scheduled to meet with Supervisor Kinsey and representatives of the Department of Public Works to discuss the timeframe and other next steps for the installation of this project at a meeting on June 3, 2015 at the Civic Center.
-- Update on the BCPUD Chlorine Disinfection Byproduct Reduction Project.
The district received approval from its Assigned Engineer at the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) to conduct a coagulation pilot study to assess whether coagulation prior to filtration will help reduce the organics in the district’s raw water to levels such that chlorine disinfection byprojects in excess of the state’s maximum contaminant levels do not form in the district’s treated drinking water. All water run through the pilot study will be process via Filter #4 and the resulting filtered water will be diverted to waste and will not enter the district’s treated drinking water. Staff has developed a protocol for the pilot study which also was approved by the SWRCB.
-- Update on Replacement of Sewer Pumps at the Wharf Road Lift Station.
The district’s engineers are evaluating the pump alternatives staff identified to determine which of these pumps (or others the engineers may identify) will best serve the district’s needs going forward. Director Amoroso inquired whether significant modifications to the district’s infrastructure will be required to install new pumps. Staff said this will be part of the engineers’ analysis.
Staff reported that water consumption remains at low levels, consistent with the SWRCB’s requirement that customers maintain at least a 25% reduction in consumption as compared to the 2013 baseline year. Although consumption did spike up during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, it then declined and the weather has remained foggy and cool, which also helps keep consumption low. Flows into the sewer system similarly remain below historic average levels. Director Amoroso said the news is reporting that districts across the state have specific water consumption reduction targets and inquired whether the district has been assigned a specific target. Staff said that the news is focused on the requirements applicable to urban water suppliers (those with 3,000 or more connections) and the tiered reduction targets assigned to those districts, whereas smaller water districts like the BCPUD have been charged with achieving a 25% reduction, which the BCPUD accomplished in 2014 and is on track to accomplish in 2015. Director Amoroso asked if the district might need to ban all automatic outdoor irrigation systems; staff said that specific restrictions or prohibitions on automatic systems are not necessary at this time. That said, the district strongly encourages hand-watering rather than using automatic irrigation systems.
-- Drainage Project Manager’s Report.
The Board received a report from Drainage Project Manager Lewie Likover.
4. Community Expression.
Director Amoroso mentioned that the “graffiti issue” is under discussion downtown due to the County’s recent placement of signage at the beach entrances; the new signs have been painted over and personal property (cars and fences) have been sprayed, as well. He noted that replacement signs have been installed and that the local news stations have been in town reporting on the topic. Director Siedman said there is a difference between the graffiti artists and the vandalism downtown and noted that several people have contacted him to inquire whether there is a role for the BCPUD to help resolve matters.
5. Proposed Amendment to Franchise Agreement for Solid Waste, Recycling and Green Waste Services between BCPUD and Redwood Empire Disposal, Inc.
Steve McCaffrey with Redwood Empire Disposal addressed the Board and answered questions about the proposed amendment to the franchise agreement. He noted that the company approached the district a few months ago about an extension of the franchise agreement, which otherwise was set to expire in June 2015, and an increase in rates. (The agreement subsequently was extended to December 2015 to allow time for the BCPUD and customers to consider the company’s proposed amendment). Steve explained that the company is “in the red” with regard to its operations in Bolinas because its costs are exceeding the revenue it receives from the services it provides in the district. Steve noted that the increase in rates under the current agreement was capped at 85% of the CPI, so the company has been falling behind in its revenues for years. Steve noted that the same situation was occurring at Stinson Beach and the company similarly approached that district for an amendment to the franchise agreement (specifically, an extension of the term of the agreement and an increase in rates charged to customers), which that district and its customers recently approved. In Bolinas, the company proposes to extend the term of the agreement to 2030 and to increase rates by 6% for 2016 and 5% per year thereafter though 2022 (the extra 1% in 2016 is for a second “bulky waste” pick up day), plus the amount of any increase in the CPI for the San Francisco Bay Area over and above 2.5% for the preceding year (but only if such an increase should occur), and then to increase rates by the percentage amount of the CPI for the San Francisco Bay Area on an an annual basis thereafter.
Steve passed out a County-wide survey of rates charged throughout the county for solid waste disposal services and noted that Bolinas customers pay $16.80 per month per 32 gallon garbage can. The current mean rate in the County is $32.51 per month for a 32 gallon can, so the rates in Bolinas are far lower than in the rest of the County. Even with the company’s proposed rate increase, the monthly rate for a 32 gallon can in Bolinas by 2022 will be less than $25. Steve explained that an outside accounting firm performed an analysis of the company’s operations in Stinson and Bolinas which demonstrated that its costs exceed its revenues right now; accordingly, the company is seeking a way to catch up which is fair to the district and its customers. Matt Lewis inquired about the green waste disposal costs elsewhere in Marin vs. Bolinas; Steve explained that the rates are higher in Bolinas for green waste disposal than elsewhere in the County, but the BCPUD is entitled under the agreement to specify where the company disposes of the community’s green waste.
Director Siedman said that he, director Godino and staff have reviewed the company’s proposal and agree that it is a fair proposal for the community to consider. He noted that if there is no objection from the Board, staff will intitiate the Proposition 218 process to notify the community about the proposed amendment to the franchise agreement and specific rate increases for customers over the extended term of the agreement. Director Smith agreed that the proposal seems fair; he asked if the company would be willing to formally report on the tonnage of recyclables vs. garbage going to landfill from Bolinas so that the BCPUD can release this information to the community and encourage increased recycling. Steve said he would be happy to do this by providing the same report he provides to the County of Marin for unincorporated Marin; he said it is easy to report specific to Bolinas because the company operates only in Bolinas on Thursdays (so the numbers are easy to segregate for the rest of unincorporated Marin). Steve noted that the Resource Recovery Project also has data concerning green waste diverted there, as well. Director Comstock agreed that these numbers will be very helpful for the community as it seeks to increase its diversion away from landfill. He noted that many people compost their own food waste, so that diversion will not be captured in the company’s reporting numbers; Steve concurred. Steve proposed reporting to the BCPUD on a quarterly basis as it does to the County. Director Smith asked if a provision could be added to the amendment to codify this point; Steve agreed to provide specific language for the Board’s consideration.
In response to a question from Matt Lewis, Steve described a series of statewide events have lead to a decline in the price for recyclable materials out of California, including but not limited to the recent strike at the ports in California. This has been a huge challenge for companies in the recycling market; in all of its other markets, the company is seeking a $1 per household increase in rates to help offset these losses through 2016, at which time the market is expected to stabilize. Steve said the company is not seeking to impose this fee in Bolinas at this time.
Director Comstock said he appreciates the provision in the amendment (provision 4) stating that the company will use “best efforts” to maximize the recycling of recyclables. He asked if the company would be willing to add a clause to this provision as follows: “ . . . , including maintaining the separation of recyclable material from solid waste during the collection process.” Steve said the company will do so as long as the district is satisfied that the company’s current operations meet this requirement. Director Comstock agreed to provide specific language to staff, who will forward it to the company. Director Comstock said he believes there is a further public policy at issue in that dumping in landfills across the nation (not only on Marin by any means) is de facto subsidized because the landfills do not (and are not required to ) charge the fully loaded cost of running their operations; as such, the economics of recycling do not pencil out as they should and it is cheaper than it should be to dump at landfills. Steve agreed, but noted that the company does not own its own landfill, so its business model is predicated on avoiding landfill tipping fees to the maximum extent possible.
Director Siedman directed staff to work with the company to finalize the amendment language and then prepare the Proposition 218 documents for notification to the community.
6. Transfer of Sewer Connection from APN # 193-102-17 (Park and Brighton Avenues) to APN# 193-030-07 (80 Terrace Avenue).
Director Siedman said that the owners of the two parcels in question have asked whether the district would be willing to approve the transfer of a sewer connection from a property located at the intersection of Park and Brighton to a property located on Terrace Avenue; he noted that staff has not identified any jurisdictional boundary or other limitation that would prohibit the transfer. Director Smith stated that this transfer involves an existing connection to the sewer system, so approving the transfer of the meter is not an expansion of the system. In response to questions from director Amoroso, staff confirmed that the district will not extend the collection main to accommodate this transfer; rather, the transferee will have to pay all costs associated with connecting to the collection main from his property via the installation of a sewer lateral/service line in the Terrace Avenue right-of-way. Director Comstock said that all permits must be paid by the transferee, as well. Director Amoroso asked if the annual service fees have been paid by the transferor; staff confirmed that the fee payments are current. Director Amoroso advised that the Board condition its approval on findings that this is an existing sewer service connection, that the annual service fees have been paid in full, and that all costs of installation must be paid by the transferee. Director Comstock said that any and all County permit fees also should be paid by the transferee.
L. Comstock/D. Smith all in favor to approve the transfer of an existing sewer service connection from APN # 193-102-17 to APN# 193-030-07, subject to the foregoing findings and conditions specified by directors Amoroso and Comstock.
7. Discuss Investment Strategy and Expenditure Protocol for Endowment Fund.
Director Smith asked for this item to be included on the agenda because he has been troubled for some time by the fact that the district is earning less than 1% on its funds on deposit as an “endowment fund” whereas construction costs are increasing at a much greater percentage rate. He noted that the district has a newly adopted capital improvement plan and he strongly believes that the best use of the district’s funds are on the installation of capital improvement plan identified in the plan; as such, he proposes to transfer the $500,000 designated as an endowment fund to the district’s water and sewer reserves for capital projects. He acknowledged that the district has viewed the endowment fund as a potential source of defense funds should litigation be filed against the district, but he does not agree that it is a sufficient amount to deter potential litigants, nor does he believe this is the best use of district funds.
Director Amoroso said that he doesn’t disagree with director Smith’s suggestion; when the funds were designated as endowment funds, no one at the time expected that the low interest rates would continue as long as they have. Rather, the Board believed that the annual interest to be earned on the endowment fund would be sufficient to finance capital improvement projects. Regrettably, that has not been the case. Director Comstock said he is glad director Smith raised this issue as the district clearly faces increased capital improvement costs; in addition, the levels of the district’s water and sewer capital reserves are “borderline” in light of identified expenses, particularly in light of the upcoming expense of replacing the pumps at the downtown lift station, which will be paid from sewer reserves. Director Godino said she is deeply in favor of infrastructure improvement projects and agrees that it is fiscally responsible to expend the funds on such projects now rather than keep it in low interest-bearing accounts.
Director Siedman said there appears to be a consensus on the Board in favor of director Smith’s proposal. He asked for Board input on next steps. Director Smith moved that the district transfer the $500,000 from the endowment fund into the water and sewer reserves in an appropriate proportion and then proceed with the identified capital improvement projects as quickly as possible. Director Amoroso said he believes the flexibility already is there to re-allocate these funds on a 4/5 vote (per the Board’s action at the June 10, 2010 special meeting concerning these funds). Director Smith said his motion is to dissolve the endowment fund and deposit the funds directly into the water and sewer reserves. Discussion ensued about how to allocate the funds between the two enterprises. Director Amoroso suggested the creation of a “general” capital reserve so that the Board can vote to draw upon the funds specifically as and when needed (rather than designate specific amounts for water and specific amounts for sewer, for example); director Smith said he did not object to this, as long as the funds themselves are redesignated for capital projects. Director Siedman ultimately noted that the agenda item is a discussion item only; he suggested that perhaps a specific allocation proposal should be developed for the Board’s consideration and action at a subsequent meeting. Director Smith said that if the Board establishes a more general reserve fund, then specific allocations don’t need to be established at this time. Director Comstock said that some sort of sense of proportionality should be applied to the ultimate expenditure decisions, but he favors preserving flexibility now and not specifically allocating between water and sewer funds.
Director Siedman requested staff to include an item for the June meeting agenda to transfer funds from the endowment fund to a general capital improvement project fund as per the Board’s discussion.
8. Update on Proposed Sale of College of Marin Properties in Bolinas.
Director Siedman said that a local group is interested in making a proposal to acquire the College of Marin lab building and dock, but is waiting for the College to issue a Request for Proposals. The group would like to create affordable senior housing at the lab building property and maintain the existing dock as a public dock for local fishmen and boater access to the lagoon and bay. Director Amoroso inquired whether there is any interest in acquiring the private home also owned by the College; director Siedman said the local group is not interested in that property, but the current renter likely is interested in acquiring it.
9. Water Supply Update.
Director Smith commented that the district’s consulting hydrologist currently is working on an analysis and recommendation (including a cost-benefit analysis) concerning next steps on the district’s evaluation of the aquifer supplying the irrigation well at the Resource Recovery site.
10. Volunteer Committee Reports.
-- Bolinas Lagoon Advisory Committee: Director Amoroso reported that District Manager Linda Dahl has resigned her position with the Open Space District.
-- Downtown Parking & Traffic Committee: Nothing further to report.
-- Resource Recovery: Nothing to report.
-- West Marin Mosquito Control Coordinating Council: Director Amoroso reported that a subcommittee will meet with Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District Manager Phil Smith and commented that the District’s assessment ballot measure failed. Director Smith noted that Russ Faure-Brac, who recently passed away, was instrumental in the positive accomplishments of the Council from the time of its inception and his good work is deeply appreciated.
-- Land Stewardship Committee: Director Siedman reported that the committee members continue to work on their assigned sections of a report to the BCPUD Board and will meet to discuss it next month. Matt Lewis inquired whether Mickey Murch is charged for the water he uses from the irrigation well at the Resource Recovery site. Director Siedman said that the users are not charged for the water; rather, they pay directly for the costs to operate the well. Director Smith said that the current uses of this irrigation well are very helpful to the district’s ongoing study of this water supply.
11. Other Business.
a. Board Committee Reports.
-- Finance: Third Quarter Financial Report; Updated Capital Projects Report; Minutes of the March 24, 2015 and the April 14, 2015 Finance Committee Meetings.
The Board received the third quarter financial report and the updated capital project report.
L. Comstock/V. Amoroso all in favor to approve the minutes of the March 24, 2015 Finance Committee meeting.
Approval of the minutes of the April 14, 2015 Finance Committee meeting was deferred to the June 2015 regular meeting of the Board.
-- Legal: Nothing to report.
-- Mesa Septic, Flood Control and Roads: Nothing to report.
-- Operations: Nothing to report.
-- Park and Recreation: Nothing to report.
-- Personnel: Staff reported that the district has received three applications for the part-time laborer position and no applications for the weekend shift operator position; the leave of absence for Shift Operator is approved through July 6, 2015.
-- Sewer: Nothing to report.
b. Minutes of the April 22, 2015 regular meeting.
Approval of the minutes of the April 22, 2015 regular meeting of the Board was deferred to the June 2015 regular meeting of the Board.
D. Smith/G. Godino all in favor to approve the warrant list.
d. Scheduling of Next Meeting(s):
June 17, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.