North Tahoe Public Utility District candidate Q&A: Phil Thompson and Frank Mooney
October 15, 2008
Candidates Frank Mooney and Phil Thompson answer questions about rates, infrastructure and more below.For complete local election coverage go to http://www.SierraSun.com/Election2008.
Mooney: Over the past five years the district has prepared a comprehensive listing of needed capital improvements projects. We refer to this as our CIP Plan. Each project is explained in detail as to the need, the cost, the anticipated time frames and funding sources etc. This is our working plan as to the future projects needed. I will continue to work off of this plan. I would not anticipate a forced rate increase since rates are raised when the funds needed to do a project are not sufficient and are therefore planned as part of the CIP Plan.Thompson: If forced to raise water rates, I would replace as many aging water lines as possible. Replacement costs are much lower than in previous years because of the lagging economy and a general decline in construction projects, which promotes increased competition among excavating contractors. If raising recreation rates, I would replace the childrens playground equipment at the regional park and dredge the boat ramps in Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista. The boat ramps are unusable when the lake level is low.
Mooney: A main prevention to such spills is to continue in monitoring, TV-viewing, and the vactoring of our lines, which we are always doing. Also implement a good community outreach program whereby the public and the business community is informed as to the matters that create problems and the steps to take to lessen the potential for spills. Also a good expenditure would be to remove those lines that are in the riskiest locations. These typically are those lines that are on shore zones. Presently that is an expenditure which is beyond our abilities to fund.Thompson: Assuming you are asking about spills and overflows by the public utility district, there are never any spills or overflows that are intentional. They are all accidental. With the current budget constraints, we must prioritize problem areas and monitor or repair them first. Ideally, we would be able to replace all of the deteriorating sewer lines and old pump stations. We have very old sewer and water lines and replacing them should be number one priority.
Mooney: Recently the district implemented a rate increase that is being used to remove and replace old water lines throughout the district and to build a new water storage tank. A big benefit of the water tank is fire protection. I would not divert that money to other projects. To better serve our present community and to attract capital investment the infrastructure needs to improve and I will attempt to continue to put as much of our resources into this plan as possible.Thompson: The new district manager, Curtis Aaron, brings much knowledge to his job. He and the districts department heads are working hard to build a strong team. The challenges faced by the district are unparalleled, but can be overcome with innovation and a collaborative spirit between the districts leadership staff and board.
Mooney: I would remodel and make the conference center a retail mall.Thompson: The recreation department is in a financial crisis. Its my understanding that this department is loosing $120,000 annually on the conference center alone. Tahoe is among the top destination spots in our nation. We have a beautiful facility to hold conferences, weddings, small-scale conventions, etc., but we are not promoting it adequately. A marketing manager should be utilized to promote our facility regionally and nationally. Local residents should also be encouraged to use the facility. There should be rib cook offs, chili cook offs, high school band competitions, fundraisers, etc., to fill up the center. I understand it costs $5,000 to $6,000 to hold a wedding at the conference center. A discounted fee for residents would help to encourage use by locals.