SCOTTS VALLEY -- A lifelong resident and president of the city's chamber of commerce has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Directors for the Scotts Valley Water District.
Danny Reber, 38, was unanimously approved at Monday's Board meeting, beating out four other applicants. Among them was Larry Beaman, the outgoing chair of the Scotts Valley Unified School District who earlier this month also lost his bid for the 17th Senate District seat.
Reber takes the place of former board member Joe Miller, who died Oct. 17. Miller was set to be sworn in to another four-year term at the board's Dec. 13 meeting, but Reber will instead take that oath, along with current board member Chris Perri.
Miller joins the district at a crucial juncture. At the Dec. 13 meeting, a second public hearing will be held on a proposed 3 percent rate increase. No members of the public attended the first public hearing in October, and if the majority of ratepayers do not oppose the move, the increase becomes effective Dec. 15.
The increase would be in effect for five years, and follows a significant increase in 2010 that raised some ratepayers' bills nearly 20 percent for two years. It was the first increase in a decade and a "very bitter pill for people to swallow," especially senior citizens living on fixed incomes, Reber said.
"It's important to keep a finger on the pulse (of the district's) dollars and cents" to ensure annual rates are in line
"Whatever happens, both sides need to sit down and talk," he said. "There needs to be communication."
Meanwhile, officials also are searching to replace the district's general manager, Charlie McNiesh, who earlier this month announced his resignation effective Dec. 28. While that search continues, board president Dave Hodgin said, McNiesh's position will be filled on an interim basis, and several interviews will be conducted at next week's Association of California Water Agencies meeting in San Diego.
Reber, who works as a sales and marketing consultant for Cinespots -- which produces advertisements for community movie theatres -- has a long history of community involvement. As a member of the Rotary Club, he helped raise thousands of dollars for repairs at the middle school, he said, leading to the Chamber naming him their 2006 Scotts Valley Man of the Year.
He's still getting up to speed on the current issues facing the district, saying, "The more I learn, the more I learn I don't know."
In September, the board held a special meeting to discuss a report from a private consulting firm about the future of the district. But that meeting -- and several others held in recent months -- quickly moved into closed session. While Reber was not involved in those discussions, he said that as a new member, "I think transparency is a good thing."
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