The makeup of the Shady Cove Water District Board changed dramatically at the November 11 regular meeting of the water district. President Jim Collier resigned from position 4 on the board, with Judy Shanrock duly elected to that position. The board then appointed Collier as manager of the water district. Collier will have a personal services contract with the water district, with the possibility of a salary.
With Collier taking the position of manager, he is no longer president and no longer on the board, he said, although no actual resignation from the presidency took place. Collier said it is likely Secretary Dee Hawkins will run the December meeting at which time a new president may be elected.
New board member Shanrock said she will work very hard to bring affordable public water to Shady Cove. There is a big possibility, she said, the water district may be able to get grants through the federal administration of Barack Obama. Obama will support spending for infrastructure, and water is at the top of the list.
The water district board will talk with legislators in Salem to push this idea, she said. She does not think a private water system would have a chance for those grants. Best of all to Shanrock is if the board is successful in developing a publicly owned water system, “the people of Shady Cove will own it.”
The board clarified that loans made to the water district will not be repaid until the district has reliable water and a stable income. The amount of loans total almost $20,000 with Collier having lent most of that sum to the district for legal fees incurred in a lawsuit against the county. The court ruling, early in 2008, declared the water district to be a viable entity. Repayment of the legal fees has been a sore point with residents who voted four out of five to disband the district in 2004.
Although the water district is a legal entity, the $6 fee that is billed to residents has been slow in coming in, said Collier. As of October 13 the bank balance was $3880.76. The water district is working with an attorney, Michael E. Kellington of Medford, who researched whether water districts have the authority to impose a fee for services.
According to Collier, Kellington said the fee is legal. An excerpt from a letter written on the letterhead of Kellington and Kellington states that Kellington researched fees by pulling up websites from other water districts including the Tualatin Valley in Oregon. “These sites take for granted that the district has the ability to impose fees for services,” was a sentence in the paragraph.
Because the paragraph was ambiguous and Collier did not share the letter in its entirety, this reporter made two phone calls to Kellington to verify the legality of the fee. Kellington did not return the calls.
Something new was added to the meeting. Besides recording the proceedings, the water district now videotapes the meetings. A large video camera faced the audience during the meeting.
The next water district meeting is December 9 at 2:00 p.m. The meetings are at the Old Masonic Hall at Highway 62 and Cleveland.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent