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CSD candidates

CSD candidates Les Clark, left, and Morrison Graf offer the board a way to resolve the stalemate over their election.

The Community Services District board named a new director at last week’s meeting and fielded complaints from Murieta Village residents who are unhappy about the possibility of losing bar-code access through the gates.

Choosing a new CSD director

The board selected Morrison Graf, a Murietan for 18 years, to fill a board seat that will come up for election in November 2016. The vacancy was created by the resignation of Paul Gumbinger, who moved from the community.

Graf, educated as a civil engineer, retired in 2013 after three decades in the construction industry – as a contractor, a construction company executive and as a Sutter Health construction executive. On the personal side, he was a Boy Scout troopmaster in Rancho Murieta for five years and has coached youth soccer.

In addition to Graf, the board interviewed candidates Les Clark, Stephen L. Murphy and Larry Shelton:

  • Clark is a civil engineer who retired from an engineering firm after a career focused on large master planned communities.
  • Murphy, a licensed general contractor, is retired after 43 years as a supervisor in commercial construction. He’s a frequent attendee at CSD meetings.
  • Shelton, who has also filed as a candidate for the Rancho Murieta Association board, has lived in the community less than a year. He retired after 40 years with the U.S. Geological Survey’s water resources division.

“I was absolutely amazed that we had four super-super-qualified candidates to apply,” said Jerry Pasek, board president. “It’s amazing what this community has in talent and expertise. It is usually not the case where you get four people who have direct, applicable, technical, experience and backgrounds to support what we’re doing and what we need.”

To win the seat required three votes from the existing directors, but the wealth of candidates made those three votes hard to get.

In their conversations about the candidates, the directors all ranked Graf and Clark as the top two. Here’s how the first round of voting went:

  • Pasek nominated Clark but didn’t get a second to his nomination.
  • Director Mark Pecotich nominated Graf, a move seconded by Director Betty Ferraro. Pasek voted no. Director Mike Martel resisted voting, saying he didn’t like the voting process and thought all four candidates were great so he wanted each to have a turn at being nominated.
  • Martel nominated Murphy. There was no second.
  • Pasek nominated Clark. Pecotich seconded it. Ferraro voted no. Martel voted no, saying he wanted to nominate Shelton, who hadn’t yet been nominated. Pecotich abstained.
  • Martel nominated Shelton. There was no second.

Pasek said the board should narrow its focus to Graf and Clark, since each had been nominated and seconded. Ferraro said she couldn’t choose between the two to offer a nomination. “So why don’t we put Mike (Martel) on the spot?” she asked. Martel said he would be happy with any of the four and didn’t offer a nomination.

General Manager Darlene Gillum suggested the board bring Graf and Clark back to the mic to talk more about their candidacy. As this was going on, the two candidates were conferring in the audience, and they arrived at the mic with a compromise that seemed to offer the board a solution.

“Both of us are very comfortable that we have expertise and both think we can bring value to what’s going on,” Graf told the board. “Certainly, if I don’t get the position this time, I can make the commitment right now – I’m running in the next election. Les said (the same thing) in his presentation. So, either way this gets decided, you’re not losing either of us.”

Clark agreed, echoing Graf’s suggestion that the person not chosen become involved in CSD activities as a volunteer.

“We’re going to be here for the community,” Clark said. “You won’t hurt either of our feelings,” Graf said.

The second round of voting:

  • Pasek nominated Clark. There was no second.
  • Pasek nominated Graf. Pecotich seconded it. The board elected him unanimously.

Graf was sworn in, and the audience of about three dozen applauded.

Village residents protest possible loss of bar codes

A couple of dozen residents of Murieta Village were on hand to object to the possibility that a new gate policy being developed by the Rancho Murieta Association and the CSD could mean they'll no longer get bar codes to enable quick access through the gates.

Jon Nickles said he moved to the Village a decade ago. “Part of the reason I bought,” he said,  “was because I understood that buying there – and you buy when you buy in the Village – you’re part owner of this 3,500-acre community. You’re not renting a lot.  I’m not sure everybody understands that in this community....”

Nickles said his Village ownership grants him access to all 3,500 acres of Rancho Murieta, a view that drew murmurs of support in the audience.

“It was the reason a lot of the people in the Village bought,” he said. “...Now we’re being told that we’re going to be disenfranchised from those rights because we’re the Village. We no longer have a right to go visit our lakes that provide our water, or walk in the woods that are part of the 3,500 acres that we are part owner of.”

Before even worrying about a possible lawsuit, Nickles said the people making the decision should think about the possible “bad publicity of having 200 angry old folks with their canes, and their walkers, and their wheelchairs, peacefully protesting in front of the gate, while the television cameras and the newspapers show up and record exactly what’s happening in this wonderful, heartfelt, free-thinking community.”

At last month’s meeting of the Security Ad Hoc Commttee, the committee discussed eliminating bar-code access for non-RMA members, which would include Village residents. The group discussed allowing existing bar-code holders to continue to keep them until the property is sold, though the ad hoc committee’s report says that since that meeting, RMA has discussed applying a sunset to those bar codes even before a property transfer.

Jerry Pasek, board president, tried to make the RMA’s argument gently, saying the issue boils down to ”those who pay for the maintenance of the lakes and the parks and the roads are those who get convenient access to those.” And besides, Pasek said, the RMA’s proposal would only make it less convenient for Village residents to come through the gates; it wouldn’t bar them altogether.

Director Mike Martel joined Pasek’s effort, pointing out the Village has a clubhouse and a pool that are only open to Village residents because they pay the upkeep. It’s the same principle, he said.

Nickles responded, “Are we part owners of this community, or are we not? Do we have a right to visit the lakes and walk in the woods, or do we not?”

“Their argument would be no,” Pasek responded, “because you’re not paying the portion that it costs them to maintain all that stuff.”

Pasek said the final policy decision will be RMA’s. General Manager Darlene Gillum said the RMA board hasn’t seen the policy document available at the CSD meeting. It was put together by the CSD based on what was said at last month’s Security Ad Hoc Committee, which is working on a joint RMA-CSD gate policy.

Village speakers argued they let RMA members use their roads to come to the weekly Bookmobile visit, the seasonal crafts fair and the crab feed.

Developer John Sullivan drew strong applause from the Village crowd when he told the board association members received a 2005 RMA legal opinion that says the community’s CC&Rs grant owners of annexable property access to the streets, common areas and parks of Rancho Murieta. 

More work remains on plans for security-camera system

After 18 months, Director Mike Martel and Security Chief Greg Remson delivered the Security Ad Hoc Committee’s report to the board.  The committee was asked to figure out how to best use per-lot security fees that will be paid by developers, develop a plan for cameras to expand Security’s reach without expanding its payroll proportionately, and to work through a new North Gate policy with the Rancho Murieta Association.

The committee has had a rough road, including meetings last year that were held without public notice and bringing in hand-picked contractors to bid on the camera deployment, again without public notice. Just last month, at a meeting that was supposed to wrap up the committee’s work, the CSD and development representative John Sullivan had a fundamental disagreement about how to use the one-time fees the developers are providing, which Sullivan said will total $2 million.

General Manager Darlene Gillum said of the report, “There’s still some work, in my opinion, that needs to be done. ... And that is, that the board itself ... needs to make the decision how far does the district go in supplying this camera surveillance plan.”

She said the committee’s interim recommendation, last spring, was smaller than what emerged at last month’s committee meeting, when the committee proposed to look at “a district-wide surveillance camera plan.” That path would require a better definition of public-access areas that would qualify for cameras, Gillum said.

“From there, we have to work further on the use of the security impact fee policy,” she said of the fee charged developers and how and where it should be spent. She called the draft policy being put before the board “a very preliminary-stage draft.”

Jerry Pasek, board president, said a lot of work remains to be done.

Gillum said the first step will be for the board to decide on the scope of the system. Then there can be a bidding process for the project, which she said would have to be built in phases, since the impact fees would come to CSD only as each new home is built.

Board OKs $52,000 for recycled-water plan

The board voted unanimously to spend $52,889 for a plan to implement a recycled-water program, when – and if – there’s enough reclaimed water that it’s available for home uses. The move concluded a board conversation that had stretched over several meetings.

Right now, the Country Club uses all of the community’s reclaimed water to irrigate the golf courses. The club could use, on average, another 100 acre feet of water per year, CSD staff said, so the club pulls raw water from the river to meet its needs.

“It’s not imminent that this thing will be implemented,” said Jerry Pasek, board president, “but we need to know the steps involved so that if and when housing development picks up in significance, we know what we’re going to do and when.”

The contract was awarded to AECOM, a global company that offers professional technical and management support services. About 80 percent of the cost will come from CSD reserves; the rest will come from developer funds.

T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

CSD and Recycled Water

Applaud CSD initiative to explore use of recycled water, to include Purple water system for homes' landscape irrigation needs. 

Quote" Right now, the Country Club uses all of the community's reclaimed water to irrigate the golf courses" unquote. Aren't we, the ratepayers, paying off-district/PUD Van Vleck ranch for the "privilege" to spray/irrigate their properties with our reclaimed water?

Quote "The club could use, on average, another 100 acre feet of water per year, so the club pulls raw water from the river to meet its needs" unquote. So why are we paying Van Vleck ranch to take this water? Also, how is the club able to "pull raw water from the river", beyond CSD's  limitation for pumping from the river to fill our lakes, and only when the river flows at greater than 76 cubic feet per second?

Darlene Gillum's picture
Joined: 04/23/2010
Posts: 11
Post rating: 0

Reclaimed Water, Van Vleck Spray Fields, RMCC

The easement for the use of the Van Vleck fields for disposal of reclaimed water was paid for by developers in 2006/2007.  Resident's are not charged anything for the use of the Van Vleck spray fields.  Reclaimed water is provided to the Van Vleck fields in times of need for emergency reclaimed water disposal (i.e., when the golf courses cannot accept all of the reclaimed water that the District needs to dispose of) or at least once every 24 months to keep the easement active.

The Country Club has water rights that are separate and distinct from the CSD's water rights.  The Country Club water rights allow pumping of raw water from the river for use on Country Club property.

Darlene Gillum
General Manager, Rancho Murieta Community Services District

T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

Reclaimed Water Disposal

[quote=Darlene Gillum]

The easement for the use of the Van Vleck fields for disposal of reclaimed water was paid for by developers in 2006/2007.  Resident's are not charged anything for the use of the Van Vleck spray fields...  [/quote]

RM.com "July 30, 2007 CSD Board approved spending $315,394 for an irrigation project...the 90 day spray field irrigation project will use recycled water to irrigate about 90 acres of pasture land for cattle at the Van Vleck ranch..."

Which developer paid this $315,394 for the temporary project if not the ratepayers, and where can that particular line item be found in the CSD budget pages archives?

Darlene Gillum's picture
Joined: 04/23/2010
Posts: 11
Post rating: 0

Reclaimed Water Disposal

I stand corrected.  The CSD Board approved the $315,394 for the pipe and installation of pipe for the irrigation field.  The developers paid approximately $3 mil for the easement.  The $315k was paid from Sewer Replacement Reserves (funds set aside for capital expenditures) and, as such, isn't on a CSD budget page (the budget is for operational needs). My initial response is still valid in that the rate payers are not "paying off-district/PUD Van Vleck ranch for the "privilege" to spray/irrigate their properties with our reclaimed water". The District does not have any outstanding debt or obligation for the Van Vleck spray fields.

I apologize for not having researched further before I posted my initial response.



Darlene Gillum
General Manager, Rancho Murieta Community Services District

Todd Coulter's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 74
Post rating: 80

Some Questions

Hello Darlene!

I assume this is simply a matter of semantics around "paying off" 

Is the money that is inside the Sewer Replacement Fund account resident money?

On another note, regarding the WTP I just wanted to confirm again that the cost is being covered by the following 3 entities in equal parts: Sullivan Developers at $4mm, Residents at $4mm and the old developers letter of credit of $4mm...is this still correct?

The cost overruns and failure to engage a qualified project manager for the WTP project that has resulted in additional money being needed, is this money split between the parties above too or are you forcing the residents to pay 100% of the excess fees and costs?






Darlene Gillum's picture
Joined: 04/23/2010
Posts: 11
Post rating: 0

Some Questions

Yes, I suppose it could be a matter of semantics.  I didn't mean to imply that the Sewer Replacement Reserves were not funded by ratepayers.   But I did want to say that our current monthly rates do not include any charges for repaying anything related to the Van Vleck spray fields. 

Yes, the 3 entities are sharing in the cost of the WTP expansion project but not quite in equal thirds. The Rancho North developers at $4.358mm, the District/ratepayers at $4.358mm, and the Reynen & Bardis letters of credit at $4.136mm.  The Reynen & Bardis letters of credit max out at $4.136mm.

Although we have had schedule delays, to date we have not experienced cost overruns on the project and it seems that it will be coming in close to the approved budget.

Darlene Gillum
General Manager, Rancho Murieta Community Services District

T. Hanson's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 318
Post rating: 474

Questions to CSD-continued

Hi Darlene,

You acknowledge that the some $350K for the out-of-District/outside PUD Van Vleck spray field installation cost was taken from CSD ratepayer funded Sewer Replacement Reserves in 2006/2007. Since that one-time withdrawal from that reserve, aren't ratepayers monthly/annually assessed as part of the annual budgets to pay into such required reserves, to include replenishment of one-time funds extracted from the reserves, and isn't reserves funding an annual CSD budget line item(s)?

Also, you indicate developers pay/paid/contributed to many of the CSD water projects/studies/plants, both sewer/wastewater and fresh water treatment, such as the 2007 wastewater project/study, the latest announced $50K wastewater study and water treatment plant expansion. Again, please identify which developers and status in all such projects/studies/plants; e.g., since R & B financial woes, is their $4.136mm letter of credit still cash on hand to pay for their share of the treatment plant expansion? 

Thank you for your attention to these questions.


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