Lake Shastina CSD votes 3-2 for district-only GM

Deborra Brannon

The Lake Shastina Community Services District board during their Nov. 18 meeting heard a presentation from a Verizon wireless representative about a possible new cell tower in the district and took action on items that had been under discussion for several months.

Board president Roxanna Layne, who was recovering from recent surgery, requested that vice president Barbara Thomsson chair the meeting and later excused herself, leaving the meeting shortly after discussion of the regular agenda items began.

The board approved recruitment of a permanent general manager to work for the LSCSD only by a vote of 3-2, with directors Mike French and Paula Mitchell dissenting.

After the vote, a visibly upset member of the public walked out of the meeting, pausing briefly in front of the board to say, “I voted for you ladies and I’m very upset. The POA and the CSD should have one general manager.”

During the discussion prior to the vote, Mitchell pointed out that the board had “no approval” for hiring a general manager separately from the POA.

Layne told her the ad hoc committee crafting the job description for the position had decided “we need a general manager for the CSD only,” to which Mitchell responded “the ad hoc committee cannot determine that.”

French said the job of the committee had been simply to write a job description and reminded Layne that the POA and CSD had not yet split. “We still have to decide whether there is going to be a split. The board must vote that we’re not going to have a contract with the POA,” he said.

Concerns about the $72,000 annual salary proposed for the position were also raised by Mitchell and French.

“The only way we can afford that is to share our GM with the POA,” Mitchell said. “The district does not have the money to do this.”

French pointed out that the proposed figure was $20,000 more than former general manager John McCarthy had received, and that benefits had not been calculated yet.

“We’re going to get pounded on this, and nobody even seems to know if it’s a part time or a full time position,” he said.

In a separate 3-1 vote, the board approved a new job description for the general manager’s position, with Mitchell dissenting.

Noting that the new document was the same one currently on file but without the POA sharing the general manager, French qualified his aye vote. “I will vote for it – this is what we set out to do. But the way this got hammered out tonight is wrong. Truly wrong.”

He also reminded the board that the job description did not indicate whether the job was full or part time.

Hankins suggested language he said would be understood by applicants with management experience, such as “salary and benefits to be determined commensurate with experience” and “estimated approximately 30 hours per week.”

When Mitchell again brought up the issue of whether or not the district should share a general manager with the LSPOA, Thomsson said, “I’d like to send this out and see what we get. We could end up sharing with the POA.”

Lake Shastina resident Carol Cupp suggested the board appoint a committee to deal with the minutiae involved in recruitment, including pre-screening, initial interviews, and final interviews “behind closed doors.”

“Applicants will expect that level of professionalism,” she said, adding that the general manager recruitment process took six months when she served on the CSD board.

Cell tower

Presenter Charlie Johnson told the board that Verizon wants to lease an area of about 90 by 30 feet on Zen Mountain for installation of a cell tower, equipment shelter, and emergency back-up diesel generator. The company would also need to run utilities to the site and made the site accessible to equipment and personnel.

He said the proposed 80 foot tower would be a “mono-pine” design, with 5 foot “branches” along its length to disguise the pole.

“It does a pretty good job of blending into the area,” Johnson told the board.

As to district revenue if the plan is approved, preliminary discussions have included a monthly lease rate of $1400 per month for a five year term and four automatic renewals “with a 5 percent increase for each,” according to Johnson.

He said the new tower is needed primarily to offload traffic from existing sites due to increased use. “This is more to serve existing customers than to get new ones,” Johnson said.

Interim general manager Dave Hankins told the board that the district has the grant deed for the site and an easement signed in 1977 that allows access to it but includes no stipulation for bringing in utilities. “I have a revised easement drawn up and will send it to the property owner,” he said.

Lake Shastina resident Tom Wetter, said he has professional experience in phone and cellular technology, said he has researched the Federal Communications who Commission findings about radiation from cell towers. “I personally don’t feel like it’s a problem, although there are people who believe it’s harmful,” he said.

He reminded the board that surrounding property owners must be notified of the potential installation and that if the tower is considered real property, taxes on it must be paid to the county.

Wetter suggested that a 5 percent hike in lease payments every term is not up to inflation rate and that if Verizon rents part of their tower to other carriers, the district should get part of that revenue as well.

Thomsson asked Wetter to submit his concerns and suggestions in writing “to help the board” as it considers the project.

Public Works office

After considering whether to build a new public works office or lease a trailer for that purpose, the board voted 3-1 to lease the trailer, with Mitchell dissenting.

Mitchell had argued for the construction of a permanent building. “We have the plans, we’re ready to go,” she said of the proposed 1500 square foot building with bathroom and shower and a price tag of about $225,000.

The trailer is 720 square feet with a bathroom and a lease rate of $33,000 for five years.

“As broke as we are, we can bring this in for $33,000 and if there’s more build-out in Lake Shastina then we can look at building,” French said.

Hankins added that the building would take a minimum of a year to construct, whereas “we can have the trailer by Christmas.”

IT responsibility/access

Senior accounting clerk Debbie Nelle reported that the board directed Hankins to obtain a safe deposit box in which to store the district’s back-up hard drive and to have one Lake Shastina Property Owners Association board member and one CSD board member retrieve the back-up hard drive from attorney Bob Winston’s office.

She said the board also directed Hankins to disable all remote access to the district files, if that had not been done already.

Other business

Nelle reported that the board approved the hiring of up to three seasonal firefighters “for continuation of the winter and spring fuel abatement project.” The new positions will be funded by the POA.

She also said the board approved a new 2 p.m. start time for regular board meetings and a well site license agreement with Lake Shastina residents Mark and Robin Clure. Hankins was directed to solicit bids for a test well.