UPA opens hands for payments, help

August 01, 2002 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Faced with depleted funds and bills amounting to more than $500,000, the Utica Power Authority Board of Directors voted Wednesday night to ask for help through the mail.

Four letters drafted by UPA General Counsel Chris Williams will be sent to parties to which the UPA owes money — and to those that owe money to UPA.

UPA General Manager Vern Pyle announced Monday that the small water and power agency does not have any money to cover about $574,300 in bills from repair work to the agency's flume system, which was ravaged during the Darby Fire year.

Pyle said Wednesday that a few more bills could trickle in still.

On Wednesday, committee members voted to mail a letter to Chicago-based La Salle Bank. The bank has already given the UPA a $1.3 million dollar loan and must approve any additional loans made to the agency.

In the La Salle letter, Williams writes that the UPA might ask its members — the Calaveras County Water District, Angels Camp and the Union Public Utility District — to loan UPA the money needed to pay its bills.

The three member agencies could get most of their money back in five weeks, when the UPA committee expects to receive funds from the state Office of Emergency Services. Those funds could amount to almost $431,000. The agency also has insurance payments coming to it from the Darby Fire damage.

But leveling with La Salle has risks, warned Williams. The attorney said that, based on UPA's loan agreement with La Salle, the bank could require its loan to be paid off first or even force the UPA to raise rates.

However, committee members were confident that La Salle officials will work with them.

"It's a special situation, meriting special action," said Larry Thompson, who represents the Murphys-based Union Public Utility District on the UPA board of directors.