Decisionmakers: Barbara Danz |

Decisionmakers: Barbara Danz

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunBarbara Danz

Looking for a second-home for family ski vacations, and discovering the quiet little valley next door to the former site of the Olympics, is how Barbara Danz and her husband of 42 years landed in Alpine Meadows back in 1976.

“We drove around the lake to look for a ski place,” she said.

Then the Danz’s found Alpine Meadows, “They were wonderful for children, and that was very important to us.”

Now the children are in their 30s and Danz is a grandmother, she has even stopped skiing; in fact, doesn’t even enjoy the cold much anymore. But the former employment law attorney and corporate accountant is drawn to the decision-making that helps Alpine Springs County Water District serve 650 residents within the valley and continue to be rated as fiscally responsible by regulatory agencies.

“[The] Local Agency Formation Commission did a report in expressing how local agencies were doing, and Alpine Springs did not get a good report,” she said about a study conducted on a number of local agencies a few years ago.

Danz said at that time, two internal changes within her district, a new accounting system and the appointment of a new general manager, created a situation where the utility and service provider had no “long-range plan” and insufficient fiscal reserves.

That has been corrected, she said. But there were still rough spots to smooth ahead.

A recent controversial vote involved the board’s 2006 decision to contract with the North Tahoe fire department for fire protection services. Residents and board members, on one side of the controversy, wanted the Tahoe City-based fire department to annex Alpine Meadow’s volunteer district, opponents of that stance thought they would lose a level of service provided by the dissolution of the volunteer district.

Danz said a mediator had to be brought in to bring the two sides to an agreement: a 15-year contract with North Tahoe Fire within the district.

“The way I run board meetings [is], I believe everyone should be able to talk,” she said. “[The decision] should be what is best for the valley.”

She indicated the idea of self-governance is something she admires about the valley and its residents.

“This place is proprietary, and so are the people,” Danz remarked. “It has not changed much over the years.”

Danz said she spends about 25 hours per month on the task of managing the district’s utilities and services with the four other board members. The district is responsible for water, fire protection, sewer, recreation and refuse collection.

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