Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008 • New LMUD director wants answers

Newly appointed Lassen Municipal Utility District Director Jay Dow acknowledges he doesn’t know much about the electrical business.

But that didn’t stop him from asking a whole lot of questions about the operation of the publicly owned utility company at the board of directors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

“I’m new, and there’s a big wave of information coming at me right now,” Dow said. “These are just some of the first things I’ve come across and I want to get them out so the board and the management staff can start thinking about them.”

Dow’s concerns touched a number of areas.

“There’s a couple of things I want to say about LMUD in general,” Dow said. “I want to kind of make this statement. We are a small public utility. I think it’s imperative that we run as a smart utility, that we make smart decisions, that we’re productive and efficient, and I think we need to set that course.”

Dow said he’d spent a good deal of last week going over the district’s budget and had some big concerns. He said in his opinion some of the district’s spending practices in the past were based upon poor fiscal decisions.

Sometime in the future, Dow suggested the board should look at the district’s staffing and organizational chart.

Responding to a balance sheet presented by Bill Stewart, LMUD’s controller, Dow suggested a workshop might be the appropriate place to have his questions answered, but he still had concerns.

Dow said he had reviewed LMUD’s budget for several years and there were items that didn’t make sense to him.

“One of the things is this Power Delivery and Cost Adjustment (that) has been brought about,” Dow said, “and I have some concerns about that as well, and that’s one of the things at some point we’re going to have to agendize and talk about, surely. Basically, our income, our sales to customers, increased from 05-06 to 06-07 $2.4 million — that’s what we sold our product for. Purchased power only increased by $1.2 million, so there’s essentially a $1.2 million difference there. I’m making this very simple. I’m not sure where that went. It had to go to other expenditures somewhere, but I haven’t tracked that down yet. These are the kinds of things I’m going to want some answers to.”

The PDCA allowed Frank Cady, the district’s former general manager, to raise rates quarterly based on the cost of power.

Other business
The board handled a number of other items at the Tuesday, Jan. 22 meeting.

It unanimously approved nearly six months of minutes from previous meetings, despite having three newly appointed members who were not present at those meetings.

Jaimee Jones, LMUD’s legal counsel, advised the board members they could approve the minutes.

Ray Luhring, LMUD’s acting general manager, Jones and other management staff planned to meet with representatives from the Western Area Power Administration to discuss changes in LMUD’s contract, apparently made by Cady. According to billings received beginning in November, the district’s contribution to WAPA’s operations and maintenance budget has increased.

Luhring told the directors the district had asked its attorneys and consultants to cease working for the district and to return all work product except for those who are working on on-going projects.

Luhring estimated those cuts would save the district nearly $300,000 per year.

The board met in closed session to discuss the possible purchase of the AT&T equipment site near Litchfield, the purchase of the railroad right of way from Wendel to Susanville and the Kinross Gold Hayden Hill mine site and its transmission line.

The board took no reportable action.