After 40 years, North Tahoe PUD to replace lead legal counsel | SierraSun.com

After 40 years, North Tahoe PUD to replace lead legal counsel

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com
The North Tahoe Public Utility District is looking to replace longtime district lead counsel Neil Eskind, seen here at a meeting earlier this year.
Margaret Moran / Sierra Sun |

KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Another North Tahoe Public Utility District personnel change is in the works — this time involving legal representation.

After announcing last month the search for a new general manager, the NTPUD board unanimously voted last week to recruit a new district lead counsel.

Since July 1975, Neil Eskind has served as lead counsel, according to the district.

“This is not a reflection upon Neil’s job performance,” said board president Lane Lewis. “It’s time for a change. That’s the consensus of the board … It’s time to move on.”

Eskind is a contracted attorney, with his contract coming before the board every December for renewal, Lewis said.

Eskind will continue to work with the district in the coming months, completing projects and cases as needed. Some of those projects may involve pending litigation, real estate and property easements, and the district laws.

“We thought a new, fresh legal prospective would do the district well,” Lewis said.

The district pays Eskind $195 an hour, a rate that was set in 2009, according to the PUD.

Over the years, Eskind has helped ensure more than $10 million in local property tax revenue stays within the district; directed the district’s participation in the Truckee River Operating Agreement, which helped protect the district’s use of Lake Tahoe as a water source; and negotiated grants for nearly $10 million in recreational land purchases at no local taxpayer cost, according to the district.

“I would like to commend Neil for the excellent service he’s provided the district over his period of time,” Lewis said. “He’s been such a valuable asset to us.”

The district’s personnel committee — which directors Tim Ferrell and Phil Thompson sit on — will aid in recruitment. The PUD board will interview candidates before voting on a new lead attorney, Lewis said.

Finding someone within a month or two would be “great,” he added.

“(Eskind) brought a lot to the table besides his legal knowledge,” said board vice president John Bergmann, listing Eskind’s nuclear engineering, district operation and finance knowledge. “After 40 years, it’s hard to replace that accumulation of knowledge.”

Initial qualities preferred in a new lead counsel include being local, having public agency legal experience, and being knowledgable in the nuances of doing business at Lake Tahoe, Bergmann said.