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BoCC, PAWSD board outline Memorandum of Understanding

Evidence of a diminishing rift between the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioner and the Board of Directors of Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District, the two boards met Tuesday night to discuss the content of a Memorandum of Understanding that would outline the structure of the BoCC’s oversight over the special district.

On July 6, the BoCC approved a proposed outline to be used to formulate the MoU between the two entities, which was then discussed at an Aug. 3 meeting of the boards, with no attorneys present.

The minutes of the meeting, representing the consensus on each portion of the MoU, must now be approved by the members of each board and given to the attorneys to write the MoU.

The only disagreements between the boards occurred when some PAWSD directors voiced concerns that the BoCC would micromanage the daily operations of PAWSD, a claim that the BoCC denied each time it was brought up.

In dealing with the relationship of thePAWSD and the San Juan Water Conservation District boards, the consensus was that banning dual membership on the boards would be frowned upon by the attorneys, but that serving on both boards would be strongly discouraged from the date of the MoU forward.

Originally, the BoCC proposed that the MoU have a section dealing with the Community Water Resource Work Group; however, it was decided that, to preserve the longevity of the MoU, it was not an appropriate addition to the document.

The monitoring of PAWSD debt levels will occur through a “debt-to-tap” ratio, which will be all PAWSD debt (except for general obligation debt) divided by the total number of equivalent units or taps in the district at any time.

To give the BoCC a “trigger point” for concern, the boards decided that the comparative number would be the debt-to-tap ratio on the day the MoU is approved by both boards.

The BoCC will also have the opportunity to review and approve any new debt incurred by PAWSD, but PAWSD will be able to continue to draw on loans that have already been authorized.

As in 2010, PAWSD will continue to give an annual report to the BoCC of the district’s 10-year cash flow and capital expenditures forecast.

After a discussion about burdening the BoCC with undue information and responsibility versus the need to provide proper oversight, it was decided that a rate schedule, accompanied by any supporting documentation for rate changes, will be provided to the BoCC for review in conjunction with the PAWSD annual budget.

Any sizeable expansion of the PAWSD district and plans for servicing new areas would also be reviewed by the BoCC.

The MoU will likely include a date by which PAWSD should update its service plan, however, it was noted that the MoU should also temporarily appease the need to update the service plan until the PAWSD staff is again at full strength following the hiring of replacements for a number of district management employees who recently resigned.

The MoU, when finalized, will steer the oversight of PAWSD by the BoCC in perpetuity.

randi@pagosasun.com