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My comments are directed at PAWSD Board President Alan Bunch, and not at other board members, nor at PAWSD management, nor at its employees. PAWSD staff has been very cooperative in supplying information. My comments are made in response to Mr. Bunch’s statement in the January 23rd edition of The SUN. Mr. Bunch stated, “In terms of an action plan for accomplishing goals, I plan to sit back —,” PAWSD customers pay the highest water rates on the western slope. Their water losses are more than four times the national standard of 10%. Now is not the time to sit back; it is a time to lead. Following their election to the PAWSD Board in 2010, Messrs. Vega and Bunch did lead by delivering on their campaign promise to terminate “Dry Gulch Reservoir” plans and expenditures. Subsequently, Mr. Bunch was elected PAWSD Board President. He violated a precept of board leadership principles, by failing to maintain a reasonable degree of separation from management. He deserted his constituency, PAWSD consumers. Mr. Bunch’s first action as president was his attempt to remove the water loss report from the monthly agenda. Fortunately, his colleagues rejected his proposal.
Here, I recount other actions by Mr. Bunch, which are contrary to his campaign promises. Some actions violate the PAWSD code of conduct. Others are contrary to the recommendations of the American Water Works Association. Beginning in 2014, water rates for frugal users (those using 1000 gallons/month), such as those living in downtown Pagosa Springs, increased by 31%! When an elderly woman attended budget hearings to express her concern about the impact of water rate increases on her life, President Bunch responded that her water rates would not go up. Did he not understand the rate structure that he promoted? Part timers will soon learn that their rates have increased by 62% during winter months, if they are not in residence. Mr. Bunch violated the PAWSD code of conduct, when he asked a Colorado news organization to cease publication of submissions of a local activist. The board, upon learning of Bunch’s violation, asked him to cease and desist. Later, when the person, whose freedom of speech rights were violated, posed a question at a public meeting, Mr. Bunch chose to publicly denigrate him, rather than respond. I write, prior to the April PAWSD Board election, to encourage readers to heed an editorial of Karl Isberg. Paraphrasing his admonition, it is time for the youth of our community to take on leadership positions and serve in public office. Each of the continuing PAWSD board members encourages the reduction of PAWSD expenses and water losses. Elect candidates who will reenergize their efforts. Removal of roadblocks is the 2014 goal of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation. Should Mr. Bunch decide to run for office in 2014, recall his announcement that he does not plan to lead. He has become a roadblock to Pagosa Springs’ economic progress. Encourage our vigorous young leaders to seek office.
John S. Ramberg