My Turn: North Tahoe PUD is on the right track | SierraSun.com

My Turn: North Tahoe PUD is on the right track

Lane Lewis

After receiving many phone calls and inquiries regarding the information that my opponent has printed and put out for voters to read, and then his guest column in the Sierra Sun (“North Tahoe PUD infrastructure in bad shape” Sierra Sun Oct. 16), I had no choice but to address my opponent’s opinions. Let me stress, once again, these are HIS opinions.

My opponent would love to have each voter in our district believe that “the sky is falling,” “the sky is falling,” Let’s talk about what my opponent thinks are the issues in this election

1. The so-called Capital Improvement Program (CIP):

FACT: The truth is that the CIP is not part of the NTPUD budget. It is not and was not intended to be a statement of the condition of district facilities. It is nothing more than a list of possible future projects which might be considered after they have been evaluated, prioritized and funded in future budgets.

The general manager’s statement, referred to by my opponent, is not part of the budget and was not adopted or agreed to by the Board of Directors. This statement that my opponent continues to refer to was written in the general manager’s narrative and was his own opinion.

One good example, of many, is the existing sewer force main near the lake. On Oct. 11, Harold Singer, executive officer of the Lahontan Board said publicly, that he saw no reason to move them because the environmental harm in moving them would be greater than leaving them in place.

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2. The so-called leaks:

FACT: Anyone with experience in utility systems knows that every system has leaks. The district has had a leak detection and repair program in place for many years. The program works. You can be proud that our sewer system has the least infiltration of the three major Tahoe Truckee Sanitation Agency systems.

The NTPUD water system currently meets all state and federal regulations. We even meet the 2008 regulations to be imposed.

Leak repair is an economic issue, not a political issue. The district repairs leaks when repairs are more cost effective than line replacements, and replaces lines when that is more cost-effective. We will not spend your money foolishly to placate someone’s political ambitions.

3. What about district’s “Failed Fiscal Policy”?

FACT: Through sound fiscal management, the NTPUD has $8.896 million in unrestricted cash and investments as of Oct. 10, 2006. As a result, we have the highest bond rating possible for a special district.

Many public entities borrow money because they are unable or unwilling to live within their means. They ignore the fact that loans must be repaid, with interest, and that the real cost to the ratepayers is many times the actual amount borrowed.

If the district were to borrow the amounts suggested by others to pay for the unverified and unnecessary CIP list, water rates would have to be more than doubled and sewer rates would have to be almost quintupled just to make payments.

The NTPUD weaned itself from this expensive process during my tenure. We adjusted rates and real project schedules to be able to live within our means. Remember, it is impossible to borrow one’s way to solvency. Just ask anyone who ran up a big credit card debt in hopes of solving their problems. This was not an easy process, but we have done it in this district. This is not “failed fiscal policy” as my opponent would have you believe. Don’t let others reverse our good work as an election tactic.

4. FACT: The district has spent $9.35 million in infrastructure

improvements since 2000.

5. FACT: The planning phase of the Kings Beach Grid System Replacement Program has been completed and will begin this fiscal year with the Beaver Street Transmission Project.

6. FACT: We are the only district in the area with a systematic replacement program for our wastewater system.

In conclusion, we can all see that these are not real issues. They are nothing more than election rhetoric designed to convince the residents of our district that the “water and sewer grids” are “crumbling beneath our feet” and that “we continue to walk over a ticking time bomb.”

Let me assure you that the NTPUD is on the right track and does provide the best services at the lowest cost.