[News brief published July 17] Security issues dominated the Rancho Murieta Community Services District board meeting Wednesday, as the board began to consider new approaches to security and enforcement. The Rancho Murieta Association is looking into hiring a private firm to do the job.
After an hour of discussion, the CSD board directed legal counsel and staff to report on short-term and long-term options for enforcement that address where Security is at now and what it could be in the future.
“We need a roadmap,” said Director Bobbi Belton.
President Wayne Kuntz said the process is starting to evolve as the RMA Compliance Committee begins to draft rules to take the place of CSD ordinances that can’t be enforced. The ordinances require police authority the CSD doesn’t have.
RMA President Dick Cox, attending the CSD meeting as a spectator, came to the podium at Kuntz’s request to say the rules will address vandalism, curfew, noxious activities and skateboarding.
“Our interest is very selfish,” Cox said. “We’re only interested in what happens inside the gates and what Chief Remson’s people can do in supporting the non-arch rules. Right now we feel security-wise naked. We don’t have any security.”
RMA President Dick Cox said if RMA hires a private security firm it will be better able to direct its focus.
Cox said the RMA is looking into contracting with a private security firm.
Director Jerry Pasek remarked that private security officers wouldn’t be able to do any more than CSD Security can.
“We would be in control of what they can do, and we can direct them on what we want concentrated on and get there,” Cox responded.
Security Chief Greg Remson pointed out that RMA rules don’t apply everywhere in the community, using skateboarding at the Plaza as an example.
“This community is a patchwork quilt,” said Pasek.
CSD legal counsel Steve Rudolph repeated two options for security that were part of his May 28 presentation. “Right now, with direction from the board, Security can enforce state law on district property,” he said. “We can … pursue a legislative change that would allow enforcement of state law on all property within the district.”
It wouldn’t be the first time Rancho Murieta looked to the Legislature for the solution to a community problem. In recent years, officials went to the Legislature twice for bills that make it legal to cross Highway 16 in a golf cart. After the first bill expired, the second one became the permanent law.
Rudolph said another option is to increase use of peace officers “who already have the ability to enforce state law” throughout the community.
Cox told the board, “What you people decide is going to impact where we’re going to go.”
Pasek pushed for an outline that spelled out short- and long-term approaches. “You got to lay something on the table or you’ll never get progress made,” he said.
“I feel like we’ve been spinning our wheels since the May meeting,” Belton agreed.
The board passed a resolution calling for a report on the options and interim steps that would help answer the question Rudolph asked at one point during the meeting -- “Where do you want to put your time, effort, money and resources?”
CSD hires and appointments
- Darlene Gillum joins the CSD as director of administration July 21. At the CSD Personnel Committee meeting earlier in the month, General Manager Ed Crouse said the new financial manager has 20 years experience in the field and a master’s degree in business administration. The position has been vacant since January.
- Director of Field Operations Paul Siebensohn said an additional wastewater treatment plant operator has been hired. The hire was included in the 2008-2009 budget after it appeared as a recommendation in an independent audit of plant operations.
- Director Bob Kjome has succeeded Dick Taylor as the CSD representative on the Parks Committee. Director Bobbi Belton was appointed to take Kjome’s place as the alternate member.
Providing a neighbor with water
A neighbor has asked to hook up to the CSD water system because of long-standing problems with the shallow well that serves his property. Don Hutchison is the grandson of the farming family that built a home on the 80-acre property in the early 1960s, General Manager Ed Crouse told the board.
The property is located near the CSD Building, but it is outside the district and does not receive CSD services.
“That water has been failing for a number of years,” Crouse said. “They’ve asked us to pursue an emergency expansion of our place of use to allow them to hook up to our water system.”
Crouse said the state Division of Water Rights was contacted about the matter and indicated the request to extend service was unlikely to be controversial since it concerns the health and safety of a single residence. The Local Agency Formation Commission also makes exceptions for extending service beyond established boundaries for reasons of health and safety, Crouse said.
The CSD Improvements Committee is “inclined to at least pursue more dialogue with the specific approval agencies and report back,” Crouse said.
He said the CSD has a contract to provide water for several households on the Van Vleck ranch. It’s the only out-of service area arrangement at this time.
“I would assume all expenses associated with getting him water and the water itself would be on his nickel,” Director Jerry Pasek commented.
Accountant Larry Bain presented the 2006-2007 comprehensive annual financial report and draft audit. He described the district’s day-to-day accounting operations as very strong, but recommended a change in accounting software to provide ongoing balances for the individual funds. The funds are water, sewer, drainage, solid waste and security.
The draft audit is available here.
Adjusting development fees
The board introduced an ordinance to amend the community facilities fee code after holding a public hearing. The board will adopt the ordinance at its August meeting. The district reviews the fees annually and amends the Community Facilities Fee Code to accommodate increases. The three fees are paid by new development. Two of the three have increased.
The fee for community parks increased less than percentage point. It will be $1,667.88 per lot. The CSD is able to collect this fee if the parks fee is not paid to the Rancho Murieta Association, General Manager Ed Crouse explained.
The water supply augmentation fee was increased 4.18 percent to $4,187 per lot for new development. The fee is collected to provide for additional water to meet needs at build-out during a 200-year drought.
There was no increase in the capital improvement fee.
Locked-off water meters
With water service to 36 households shut off in a month’s time, directors wanted to know if it indicated more foreclosures and vacant homes. “Mainly it’s lack of payment, whether by the bank or by the person,” General Manager Ed Crouse said.
He added that the RMA is being kept informed about water shut-offs.
The RMA began watering the landscaping at about 20 foreclosed homes last month. The CSD is tracking the amount of water used to fill the water truck, but is not billing for the water at present.