Friday, October 17, 2014

• Q&A With EVMWD Board of Directors Member Judy Gugliemana

Here is a blog based on the conversation I had with EVMWD Board Member Judy G who is running for reelection this November 4th for District 3.

This is the 2014 EVMWD boundaries and the various board members.

WR: I've seen signs for two different water board races, What is the Western Municipal Water District?
 JG:  Western Municipal Water District is our wholesale agency. They are a member of Met (Metropolitan Water District). They get water from Met, and they sell to us. 

WR: The key issue for homeowners is rate increases, what's your stance on rate increases?
 JG:  I can't say "we're not going to have a rate increase" because it's supply and demand. We are trying to create more water resources of our own so we don't have to buy as much water. When we have to increase water rates it's when we have to buy more water. We have to pay what Met charges. I'm not for rate increases—ever, but [sometimes] it's absolutely necessary. We have to pay the going rate, which is based on the scarcity of water.

WR: Tell me what prop 218 means in reference to rate increases.
 JG:  Prop 218 was passed about nine years ago, and that's where you have to go out and notify the public about a rate increase. There is a public hearing, so that the public can voice their opinions. If you have more than 2/3 of the people come back with an objection that can stop the increase. It's basically a notification to all ratepayers that rates are about to be raised.

 brief commentary on the above
WR: Based on what I've seen, when it comes to public involvement, there isn't a snowball's chance in Hades that even 50% of such a large group would ever get together, much less 67%. Still, it isn't as if Judy G authored that provision in Prop 218.

WR: With our draught conditions, tell me about rationing and fines.
 JG:  We're in stage 2 of a draught.There is a possibility of fines in stage 2 if you're found to be very wasteful. If they [inspectors] go by and you've got your sprinklers going and running down the street. There is a warning period that you get, then there's a second warning, then there's a notice that goes out. 

We have a lot of conservation measures that we've tried to take... we have low flow shower heads, we also have low flow sprinkler heads and nozzles. Such things have helped. We have cut back tremendously on our water consumption, but there's more that we need to do.

WR: What about the $500 fines that Sacramento has passed?
 JG:  Each individual agency has their own policy. The state gives the latitude to impose those fines, but we (EVMWD) have our own policies. I don't know that we've sent a fine out to anybody. We've sent letters out, last count was maybe 50. We have people calling us now reporting on their neighbors, if someone is washing down a driveway, or broken sprinklers. When that happens, we take down the address and send someone out that will leave a notice asking them to correct the issue. If it's not corrected, then we repeat the process... but I don't think we've fined anyone yet.


WR: Tell me about your experience?
 JG:  First, experience is probably the biggest issue. Water is no longer a local issue. We have to deal with this most precious resource (water), on a State and Federal level. I have spent years developing relationships with leaders at all levels of government. With all due respect to my opponents, I don't believe they have sat down with an Assemblyman or a Senator, and or their staff, to work out details for pending legislation on water and wastewater issues, I have.


Secondly, I'm not a past employee of EVMWD. I don't have any axes to grind or skeletons in my closet to worry about. The ratepayers of EVMWD deserve a director that thinks of them first. I have always put the ratepayers first and I always will.

Click this link to see Judy G's Bio at EVMWD

WR: Tell me what a director on the water board does.
 JG:  Directors have three primary responsibilities. 

A) Promote the best interests of the District's customers by establishing policies that support the vision and mission statement of the District, and to ensure the implementation of those policies. 
B) Assure fiscal health of the District. Adopts a budget to manage revenue and expenditures;  develops cash reserves and investment policies. 
C) Hire staff to manage the day-to-day operations of the District. The board holds the General Manager accountable for effective management of the District. The Board is responsible for evaluating the General Manager's performance on an annual basis.

I don't believe in micromanaging. You hire qualified staff, and let them do their jobs.

WR: You mentioned cash reserves. I've read one person's assertion that there are many millions of dollars sitting there, nearly $200 Million is the claim. What's the truth here?
 JG:  There is no surplus. We have about a $50 Million dollar budget per year. I also had heard that someone said we had a 100 plus million dollar reserve —Not True (said emphatically). Absolutely not true.

If anybody would like to look at our CAFR (caffer) it's available. 

WR: What does CAFR mean?
 JG:  Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, It is our financial statement we do every year for the State. It's available to any ratepayer that would like to see it. All they have to do is call the office and get a copy of it.

WR: How accessible are you to the ratepayers?
 JG:  I have my cell phone, my home phone, my email are all on my business card. I'm accessible 24 hours a day. I have people call me, email me... talk to me all the time. I go to community meetings and people approach me there. I belong to the Rotary [Club], the Women's Club, American Legion, Elks... I belong to a lot of organizations and believe me, I do get approached at all those and I do get questions.

WR: What makes you the best candidate on the ballot?
 JG:  Years worth of experience. I don't have any axes to grind. I'm there for the rate payer. I've worked hard to restructure the water district to make us one of the top ten agencies in the state. Something I'm very proud of, the fact that we are one of the top ten agencies in AQUA, this includes the whole state of California.  

We have come up with things that are innovative. Ideas that have been copied [by other districts]. People come to us and ask us to do workshops. One of the things that have been copied is tiered rates. We're one of the very first to use tiered rates. 

It's taken a lot of years of hard work. I try to keep very active, I try to keep within the community, I try to keep my ear to the ground to hear what the people, the ratepayers, are looking for. Can't make any promises. All I can do is represent them the best way I can, and listen [to them]. Get their ideas conveyed to the powers that be, to the rest of the board, to the General Manager.

If somebody asks me a question, I find the answer. It may not be the answer they wanted, but I get back to them with the answer.

WR: You mentioned that you never were an employee of the water district, does that matter when it comes to being on the Board of Directors?
 JG:  My opponent is saying that he's a Water Resource Specialist. Well that's not what he did for the district. That was not his job for those years. He was an employee for the district for all of those years, but I don't think that gave him anymore knowledge than what I have on the everyday workings of the District.  

We need to find new water. We need to find new resources. As a board we're doing that. I'm on the groundwater committee, I know all about where the groundwater—all the basins are. He, working for the district, probably wouldn't have that same knowledge, only because that wasn't his area of expertise. 

I have a background in finance, and I've been a negotiator all my life. I don't know how to go out and dig a hole, and I don't know the inner workings of a meter, I'm not a technician. But I do know the workings of the Water District; what we need and how we need it. I don't think he's at an advantage [in board related duties] because he worked for us for 32 years. 


Here's is Judy's contact info:
Cell: (951) 318-6820
Email: mrsgugie@msn.com


•     •     •
I'm not here to endorse any candidate, and I'm assuming that the candidates are giving it to me straightIf a reader thinks some of the above needs correcting, then please use the comment section to do it. 







Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

2 comments:

  1. It was nice of Judy to give you the interview. I'm curious about her statement, appearing twice in this interview: " I'm not a past employee of EVMWD. I don't have any axes to grind". I've known her opponent for about ten years, since he and I served on the Lakeland Village/Wildomar Project Area Committee. Judy's statement is the second time I've heard the insinuation of an ax to grind. The first came just one week ago in a malicious email sent out to voters by someone calling himself Larry. What evidence is there to support this insinuation? (Full disclosure: I was involved in the 2008 EVMWD election because of the LEAPS project.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair points. Admittedly, I'm still learning the players and can see certain familiar lines dividing the same people in Wildomar. Small town politics... oh what a joy. :)

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