SCOTTS VALLEY -- A modest water rate increase was quietly approved at Thursday's Scotts Valley Water District Board of Directors meeting, but a longtime Scotts Valley resident strongly opposed a proposal to contract the services of the district's outgoing general manager for a six-month period.
Last month, Charlie McNiesh announced he would retire effective Dec. 28. But on Thursday's agenda was a proposal to retain his services through the end of June "if and as needed," which the board unanimously approved.
But ahead of that vote, 24-year Scotts Valley resident Stefania Pietraszek detailed a months-long battle with McNiesh over a test well drilling project. Its goal was to find new sources of water, and one of the wells was drilled directly across from her home on Canham Drive.
The project originally was slated to be completed last summer, but dragged on for more than one year -- a delay Pietraszek directly attributed to McNiesh's mismanagement.
The two had numerous exchanges about the delays during the 13-month period, Pietraszek said, describing him as "aggressive, demeaning and, actually, just rude."
McNiesh acknowledged the project took longer than expected, and that he lost his temper, but said overall he believed he was "pleasant and professional" and pointed out the project was completed within budget and "produced some useful results."
Director Chris Perri apologized for the project's inconvenience, but concurred with other directors that McNiesh has "institutional knowledge" that could prove useful as several potentially grant-funded projects move forward.
Late last month, Pietraszek submitted to the board a packet containing the correspondence between herself and McNiesh about the well project. But several members of the board had not seen the packet, including board member Jay Mosley. So while he could not address that issue specifically, he said the district needs to "move along with the commitments we do have in terms of conjunctive use projects and such."
The discussion followed unanimous approval of the rate increase, which goes into effect Saturday and will tack on an extra 3 percent to residential and commercial bills each year through 2016.
Thursday's meeting was the first for new board member Danny Reber, 38, who was appointed two weeks ago to replace former board member Joe Miller. Perri, who first took at seat on the board in 2007, was also appointed to another four-year term. Mosley was approved as the board's new president, and Ken Kannegaard as vice president.
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