GCSD awarded money; fights debt

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By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

Despite receiving a $72,448.54 deposit in the sewer fund, Groveland Community Services District directors say rates will still go up.

"This $72,000 helps, it'll pay for something," said Director Don Meyers. Still, he added, "the capital improvements alone go into the millions."

The GCSD board held its monthly meeting yesterday, a 70-minute session that ran just a quarter of the time recent marathon meetings have consumed.

In the board's February meeting, directors voted to raise monthly sewer rates $24.50 per household to cover increased operating and maintenance costs. The district has not raised sewer rates since 1980, and is in need of infrastructure updates. The district is also short-handed, without an engineer and general manager.

The $72,000 check is settlement for a lawsuit filed in 2000 against GCSD and Moyle Excavation of Jamestown.

In the suit, San Francisco law firm Stanton, Kay and Watson represented the Construction Industry Force Account Council and Foundation for Fair Contracting. The groups alleged that GCSD and contractor Lee Moyle disobeyed state laws regarding bidding and state-mandated labor wages. The district hired Moyle in 1997 to expand the Reservoir 2 water reclamation pond, behind the wastewater treatment plant in Groveland.

In other business, the board heard an update from director Craig Maxwell on the district's California's Education Revenue Augmentation Fund debt to the state.

An accounting error caused the district to underpay the state fund by almost $1 million over nine years.

The ERAF fund shifted money to schools from government entities, and counties were given a formula to use in calculating their required contributions.

When an auditor caught the error in 2000, state officials said they wanted their missing money.

Maxwell said he was working with Assemblyman Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, on legislation that might give relief to districts burdened with the debt.

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