Election 2016: North Tahoe PUD — read 4 candidate statements
Visit the following websites for your respective county to learn more about local elections, as well as upcoming important dates and other information:
Nevada County: mynevadacounty.com/nc/elections/Pages/Home.aspx
Placer County: placerelections.com/current-elections.aspx
El Dorado County: edcgov.us/elections
KINGS BEACH, Calif. — Four residents are in the race to fill three seats on the North Tahoe Public Utility District Board of Directors.
The general election is set for Nov. 8. For the NTPUD race, residents will be asked to vote for three of the four candidates; the top three vote-getters will be elected to the positions.
The three open seats are currently held by John Bergmann, Tim Ferrell and Phil Thompson, all of whom filed for reelection.
In California, early voting for the general elections began Oct. 10.
To better inform readers voting early or heading to the polls on Election Day, the Sierra Sun reached out to the candidates a couple weeks ago and asked each to provide a short biography, as well as a 500-word maximum candidate statement.
Below, you can read the candidates’ statements, which are printed verbatim (including typos and grammar errors) in random order:
Name: Tim Ferrell
Full-time residence in the region: Tahoe Vista
How long you have been a resident: 24 years
Current occupation: I am the owner of Ferrell Civil Engineering
Formal education: I have a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from University of Idaho
Current and previous political/governmental experience: North Tahoe PUD Director for 10-years; North Tahoe Recreation Committee 4-years; Kingswood West #2 HOA President 12-years
Hello, my name is Tim Ferrell the incumbent running for re-election after ten and a half years of service on the NTPUD board.
I have been associated with the NTPUD for over 26-years. I live here and am raising my family here. In 1992 I was hired as the NTPUD District Engineer and for the next 7-years I grew to know every aspect of its water, sewer and recreation facilities. During my employment the Engineering staff consisted of a part time drafter and myself. Even with a small staff we performed as much design as possible in-house.
In 1999 I moved on to become Senior Engineer for Vail Engineering and later started my own firm, Ferrell Civil Engineering. My firm is based within the District and specializes in working with Public Entities, HOA’s and water companies.
It was shortly after joining the Board that I realized how my knowledge and experience can be a real asset for the District. At that time the Engineering Department had ballooned to three Engineers, a draft person and a Secretary/grant writer. Even with this large staff all design was out sourced to expensive Engineering firms in Reno and Sacramento. My research showed that because we were paying staff in addition to high priced engineering firms, the cost of Engineering often equaled the cost of construction. This was an outrage.
With this knowledge, and the Board working as a team, we eliminated two Engineering positions and the third opted retirement. We have saved the district approximately $400,000 annually by being more efficient with staff and bringing design back in-house as in the past.
My knowledge and experience has also assisted our Board to reduce the cost of our capital improvement and infrastructure replacement projects. One example is our newest water tank project in Kings Beach. The initial bid was from an Engineering firm which proposed $580,000 to design the pre-stressed concrete tank. I knew both the engineering costs were high and we did not need the “Cadillac” of water tanks. The Board acted as a team and over ruled staff, hiring a new firm to design the tank for $210,000 less and we constructed a standard steel water tank for half of the “Cadillac” cost, saving over $1,300,000 on just one project. We then used the savings to replace 10,000 feet of leaky water mains within our District.
Similarly, my skills saved literally millions on the construction of the District Administration building. Be reworking floor plans and site components we ended up with a very efficient building with initial estimates at almost 7 million we had final price below 5 million.
I hope to have the same kind of effect on future projects for the District.
I have contributed my knowledge and experience to the District because I love the people and what it stands for. I want the constituents to have the best service at the lowest possible price. Please vote for me on November 8th.
Name: Sarah Coolidge
Full-time residence in the region: Tahoe Vista
How long you have been a resident: 24 years
Current occupation: Business Consultant
Formal education: Post-Graduate Certificate in Training & Development, MA Journalism, BA English
Current and previous political/governmental experience: I ran for the NTPUD Board of Directors in 2014 and lost by 25 votes. This will be my first elected position.
Thank you for your important interest in our local election! I am Sarah Coolidge and I’m honored to tell you about my vision for the NTPUD Board of Directors, and why I am seeking office.
When I am elected I will bring a new perspective for North Tahoe… and a new vision for the North Tahoe Public Utility District:
• A collaborative NTPUD Board that works with all interested parties to ensure the sustainability of water, sewer and recreation
• An active NTPUD Board that is a vibrant, accessible and relevant seat of local government
• An interested and engaged customer base who understands where their money is going
• An NTPUD Board that supports a thriving community NOW while keeping a watchful eye on a healthy North Tahoe environment for the future
• A Recreation Department that is well on its way to enjoying the same admirable financial stability as its sibling sewer and water departments.
The NTPUD is charged with managing three differing “enterprise zones”: sewer treatment, water service and recreational services and facilities. Financially, sewer and water are in admirable condition; the biggest challenge the district faces is long-term funding for recreation. I am deeply concerned about the withering away of recreational services and resources in our district and am eager to bring my skills to bear on reversing this trend.
Our need for effective sewer and water service is clearly understandable and the impact we would feel if these services disappeared is easy to imagine. However, the true foundation of our community and economy is the wealth of recreational opportunities afforded to us by Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierras. It is these recreational opportunities that bring people to our community, and without them, there is no real need for the supporting services. It is imperative that our local government keep the strength and stability of our recreational resources in mind at all times.
Now is the time to turn our collective attention into turning the NTPUD Recreation Department into a stable profit center so that we can protect this foundational interest for our community and local economy. There is no reason we cannot accomplish this if we take a collaborative, transparent and proactive approach.
For over twenty years I have been living, working and raising my children North Tahoe. My education and years of working experience in Business and Community Development will demonstrate my qualifications for a seat on the NTPUD’s Board, and my ability to uphold the vision I have outlined. Visit my website, sarahcoolidge.com, to learn more.
The NTPUD Board of Directors is our local legislative body and as such must step up to be a collaborative voice for our community in all regional issues.Voting for this Board is your chance to have a voice in the vision and direction of our community at its most local level. Your vote for Sarah Coolidge will support a fiscally sound PUD that provides safe, reliable water and sewer services while championing a sustainable recreation-based community for us all
Name: Phil Thompson
Full-time residence in the region: Kings Beach
How long you have been a resident: 64 years
Current occupation: General Building Contractor/ General Engineering Contractor
Formal education: BA from Sacramento State University
Current and previous political/governmental experience: Current Director of the North Tahoe Public Utility District (1 term)
My name is Phil Thompson and I am running for a second term as Director for the North Tahoe Public Utility District.
North Lake Tahoe has been my home for 64 years. I attended kindergarten at Kings Beach Elementary and graduated from Tahoe Truckee High School. From there I earned my BA degree from Sacramento State University and served 6 years in the Air National Guard.
Last year I attended a three day work shop in Southern California to expand my knowledge on ways I could be a better board member. The main thing I took from this work shop was don’t vote for anything for political enhancement, but make decisions on what would be best for our residents. I truly believe in this and have used it as my guide. Thinking as an individual is valuable for a diverse board and I will not be influenced by outside pressure from a few.
I have been a General Building contractor in California and Nevada since 1976 and a General Engineering contractor since 1979. Contracting includes bidding, budgets and management of construction projects and all are used on the projects that the Utility District performs. So much of what we do in sewer and water is constructing or remodeling of pump stations or replacing lines. In the last few years, the recreation department has had many construction projects including the new dog park, new restrooms in the park, remodeling the former Placer County Animal Shelter building and repairs on the North Tahoe Event Center. I have worked diligently to review all of these projects to try and get the best value for our dollar by reviewing all RFP’s (bids) that go out. When our new office building was up for bid, I spent countless hours reading all 500 pages of the contract and specifications and reviewed dozens of pages of construction drawings. I was instrumental in taking the building from a three story flat roof building with a two bedroom apartment to a two story with no apartment, saving the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Most of the public input comes because of recreation. My focus has been to make the recreation department fiscally sound. Having partnerships with venders has been very productive in helping with our recreation deficit — including food services at the event center, the ropes course and sled hill in the park and the kayak and paddleboard rentals at the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area. Our efforts with Laulima has been to establish a partnership on the Event Center that would benefit both the community and the Event Center by upgrading the center while keeping it available for public events and affordable for our locals. This partnership also has to be viable for Laulima and it is my job to make sure our community is represented.
It has been an honor being your director and I would appreciate the chance to represent you for the next four years.
Full name: John Bergmann
Full-time residence in the region: Lincoln Green, Tahoe Vista
How long you have been a resident: full North Tahoe resident since 1974
Current occupation: small business owner Printart/Sierramail
Formal education: 2 years Livingston College/Rutgers University
Current and previous political/governmental experience: Serving third term as PUD Director, member North Tahoe Business Association Economic Vitality Committee, member North Lake Tahoe Resort Association Infrastructure & Transportation Committee
My mission is to solve our Recreation and Parks Department deficit. Not because our water and sewer departments are unimportant – in fact they are paramount – but because our recreation deficit is depleting funds that would otherwise go to these departments. I also believe recreation is the lifeblood of our community.
During my tenure, my passion has been improving and expanding recreation facilities. We have a history of citizen-based grassroots facility development such as the disc golf course, the children’s playground, and most recently a 2-acre dog park built at no cost to the District. I have been a strong advocate of these projects both as a Board member and by providing pro-bono marketing services.
We have also built grant-funded projects such as the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area and the synthetic turf soccer field, and are now spending $350,000 of Placer County grant money on North Tahoe Regional Park improvements including two new restrooms, new wayfinding signage, an ADA access trail, and senior fitness exercise equipment.
New and improved facilities are great, but ever-increasing operational expenses and capital replacement will require multi-faceted solutions to keep our recreation fees as low as possible.
My thoughts are:
• I will continue to work hard at resolving the Event Center’s losses while protecting current public access, and guaranteeing significant future revenue for recreation.
• Expanding concessionaire relationships is good for recreation, and for local business. The new ropes course, built at no District expense, is on track to yield over $80,000 this year for our recreation department. Another concessionaire possibility is working with the Forest Service to expand our cross-country/snow shoeing trails in partnership with a private vendor offering rentals/lessons/events. However, I will not jeopardize the Park’s serenity. It’s a matter of scale and “right-fit” partnerships. With over 200 acres there is plenty of space to meet the needs of all users of the Regional Park.
• Grant funds for maintenance of visitor-serving trails are now a possibility.
Regardless of what I think, my actions will be dictated by the results of the Recreation Needs Assessment Survey to be mailed to all NTPUD ratepayers and registered voters. This tool will help the Board to understand what our constituents want, and how to shape the future of recreation. I encourage all of you to complete it.
I am proud of the role I have played in reshaping the District, and our management team. We are making real progress towards delivering a long-term financial solution for recreation. I endorse continued support of the Boys & Girls Club as part of this blueprint, and believe healthy relationships and communication with locals, the State of California and Placer County will help us achieve this. Better recreation means better business, higher property values, and a healthier community.
I have a proven record of working hard for the District.
I am fair, impartial, and seek all sides of an issue before making a decision.
I’d appreciate your vote on Nov 8th.