UPA-CCWD still at odds over assessment

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By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Utica Power Authority directors Tuesday will consider appointing a committee to sort out a dispute with Calaveras County Water District over a $55,000 assessment CCWD directors do not want to pay UPA.

CCWD is one of the three agencies that make up the Utica Power Authority under a Joint Powers Agreement. Each of the three has two representatives on the UPA board.

CCWD is at odds with the other two members of UPA over the assessment levied by UPA in April to help keep the utility afloat.

The other two agencies the City of Angels Camp and the Murphys-based Union Public Utility District each paid the assessment, but CCWD directors have refused, saying the 4-2 vote to approve it was improper. Part of the assertion is that to levy such an assessment requires a 5-1 majority except in an emergency.

The four board members who approved the assessment say the situation was an emergency because of the financial losses UPA suffered as a result of the September 2001 Darby Fire.

In that fire, much of the flume system that delivers water to several west Calaveras County communities was destroyed.

UPA and CCWD have tried to work out the disagreement, but the district filed what is called a "declaratory relief order" before the holidays to ask a judge to decide whether the assessment vote was legal under the terms of the joint powers authority.

In addition to discussing the pros and cons of setting up an ad hoc committee to deal with the relief order, the UPA board will hear a number of reports, including the operations and maintenance report from Vern Pyle, general manager.

Pyle will report estimated power sales for December in the $50,000 range. He also will report on power generation from the two small powerhouses on UPA's system and water revenues for December.

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