District hears concerns on IWVGA financial status

District hears concerns on IWVGA financial statusDirector Stan Rajtora, the District’s Representative on the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s (GA) Board gave an updated report on the GA’s financial status at the Indian Wells Valley Water District’s (District) regular meeting on August 9th.

He expressed concern that the GA’s 2020 audit was commissioned and (not approved) seven months into the next fiscal year. He stated, “There are two fundamental recurring problems. The first is the GA’s financial organization. The new administrator group, Regional Government Services (RGS), is attempting to transfer all the financial record reporting to RGS as a part of their job, this has been on going for several months with very little progress made.” He expressed that he does not know where the problem is or what’s going on, “but it’s been going on for a long time and we really need to start getting reasonable financial reports, that allow us to understand the finances of the GA.

The financial report from last month showed the fund for the replenishment fees which we, the District, are the only people who spend into it, is in the red, and I believe it’s more than $300,000 in the red. We have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars. There has been no state water project entitlement purchased no one seems to know exactly where all that money went and that continues to be a problem.”

He reported that the second recurring problem is the outreach, referring to the Policy Action Committee (PAC) and the Technical Action Committee (TAC). There has not been a PAC or TAC meeting in over one year.

He named two projects that would give an opportunity to reach out to the PAC and TAC, Shallow Well Mitigation and the Recycled Water Projects. He added, “The GA needs to rebuild the public trust, I think that’s a given. It’s been difficult to assign projects. There are too many roadblocks. We’re wasting a lot of talent.”

During public comment Don Decker brought out additional information about the PAC and the TAC saying, “The TAC has been engaged for the last year and there have been problems. At least a dozen items have been sent to the TAC from Stetson (the group hired to develop the Groundwater Sustainability Plan). Reports from the TAC are simply not being posted.” He reported that he and Eddie Teasdale are the only two active members, Tim Parker occasionally sends a response. The lack of public meetings is a serious omission. “I’m making an observation why the financial situation is so completely and totally disorganized is that there is no more physical plan in place the Plan of Action and Milestones (POAM) ran out of its timeline a year ago and there’s been no effort to continue it.”

Pat Farris of the News Review stated that she was impressed with the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) offer to assist in working collaboratively with entities to help resolve some of our problems. DWR said it had the resources to do it. She questioned the board on what their position was on their offer. Jim Worth responded, “We’re actually working on a response right now to DWR on that letter. I would expect to see a response from the District within a week. We are taking the letter from DWR very seriously and we are pursuing it, doing our due diligence. I will assure the public of that we did not just dismiss that letter and will not dismiss that letter.”

Rod Stiefvater of Mojave Pistachios had a letter read into the record questioning the lack of response to the DWR letter as well as the comprehensive adjudication suit filed by the District. The letter stated, “Mojave Pistachios is ready and willing to engage in discussions with the IWVWD regarding the merits of a physical solution rather than pursuing a very costly and long winded comprehensive adjudication. I welcome an opportunity to meet with this Board in a special closed session or other appropriate venue.”

The Water District’s next board meeting is set for September 13, 2021 at 6:00PM.

Story First Published: 2021-08-13