Each member of the Virgin Valley Water District board had a different reason for giving Manager Kevin Brown top marks in his yearly performance review, but they all agreed that he has led the district through another year of well-reasoned, well-executed water management.
On Dec. 17, in its final meeting of 2019, board members gave a public summation of Brown’s performance for the year.
“I take this task seriously,” noted board member Rich Bowler. “I have talked to a number of our employees. The district hasn’t been run this well in my memory.” Bowler voiced his appreciation for Brown’s work and was echoed by others.
Board vice president Ben Davis gave an example of Brown’s successful work in seeking to improve VVWD’s customer service.
Travis Anderson cited Brown’s leadership in moving forward with change-out of water meters that will improve the accuracy and efficiency of the district’s water management.
Board member John Burrows, while giving Brown top marks across the board, asked Brown to continue developing a solid plan of management succession. One step in that development came this past year when Brown urged hiring an in-house district engineer. Efforts led to the hiring of Tyler Young to handle work that had been contracted out to consultants.
Board president, Nephi Julien, referenced the pride and positive attitude of employees in pointing out that in every board meeting Brown’s careful preparation displays his overall competence.
The year has not been without tough issues, making Brown’s review even more relevant.
The district faced potential supply problems when Well 31 could not return to service on schedule, but redundancy and project planning avoided any interruption of service.
A major line break occurred on Hardy Way, along with a record 200 replacements made to leaking poly lateral pipes. The district brought Well 1A online, while starting drilling of two others. Advance planning for a new water tank and transmission line has begun, and the district purchased a vacuum truck to enhance worker safety and efficiency in line maintenance and repair.
Design for expansion of the district headquarters building has begun. The district has updated charges for water meter installation fees and irrigation water rates in line with current costs and prevailing values.
Brown accepted the board’s remarks noting that he doesn’t do the job by himself; he has a good team. Manager evaluation occurs yearly, by state law. Brown’s salary is reviewed during fiscal year budget planning that occurs in the first half of 2020.
VVWD chief financial officer Wes Smith announced the work schedule for the FY2020 budget planning, with a preliminary meeting next month, Jan. 6. The budget must be completed and approved by the State of Nevada before the end of June.
Smith led a review of the district’s financial investment policy, proposing revision of the policy that has been in place since 2011. Laws enacted by the recent Nevada Assembly were the basis for most of the changes.
Smith, with some clarifying comments from Ben Sehy, the district’s certified investment advisor, Moreton Asset Management of Salt Lake City, presented proposed changes to the board. The proposed revised policy stated its continued objectives of safety, liquidity, and yield of district funds.
Smith pointed out the current low yields of treasury securities prompting the State to allow public investment in AAA-quality government-backed collateralized mortgage obligations and asset backed securities.
His proposed revision of policy states that such investments would be limited to 20 percent of the district’s total portfolio. Other clauses limit investment in commercial paper to 25 percent of the portfolio, corporate bonds limited to that same level, with investment in any single issuer to five per cent. The board voted unanimously to accept the revised investment policy.
Reporting on current engineering projects, district engineer Tyler Young, announced substantial completion of the Well 34 pipeline project, in preparation for drilling new Well 34 in Lincoln County. He reported that the bid process for the new Northwest Water Tank is opened, with property purchase of the tank site in finalizing stage.
VVWD is working with the City of Mesquite to improve the Town Wash drainage channel, with work to replace the ten-inch transmission line targeted for March 2020.
Hydrologist Aaron Bunker reported that seven of the district’s nine wells are functional and four are currently in operation: 1A, 27A, 31 and 32. A recent blown fuse in new Well 27A was remedied with assistance from a consultant and a local electrician. The well was out of service less than 48 hours and returned to service on Sunday, Dec. 8, using a replacement fuse. Spare fuses are now ordered for that well, with other backup fuses available for all district wells.