GA hires general manager

GA hires general managerBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approved a $200,000 contract with Regional Government Services – a firm that will act as the GA’s general manager going forward.

While stakeholders are hesitant to embrace further expenditures from the Agency, which has already spent millions developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan, members of the public have pushed for the agency to establish a regular staff.

The Groundwater Authority was formed in 2016 via a Joint Powers Agreement between Kern, San Bernardino and Inyo Counties, the city of Ridgecrest and the IWV Water District, with Bureau of Land Management and the Navy as non-voting associate members. The chair position rotates among Kern, Ridgecrest and the Water District, as does administrative staff.

While many would still like to see the GA as a stand-alone entity and have the opportunity to directly elect members to serve on the board, hiring an independent administrative staff is a step in that direction.

“This is something we’ve needed for some time,” said the GA’s Water District representative Stan Rajtora. “We need to let them get started...and I would be exceedingly happy to see if we can keep under our $225,000 budget.”

The position was budgeted for using portions of the groundwater extraction fee as well as the groundwater replenishment fee.

The firm will be taking over work that has mostly been absorbed by Water District General Manager Don Zdeba and staff. The firm will be the point of contact for the public, but intends to work remotely with no local office in an effort to keep costs down.

“A local office would add significant costs to this contract,” said City Manager Ron Strand, “which I don’t believe this board would want.” He said Zoom office hours have been “very effective” during the pandemic and that RGS will adapt its communication methods to the board’s and community’s needs.

RGS will employ three staff members, one of whom is Water District Executive Secretary April Keigwin – who has corporate knowledge of the GA as its clerk of the board. The firm will be subject to board approval at three and six months to determine whether or not to continue with the firm.

Story First Published: 2021-02-26