Financial woes draw challengers in OPUD board election
Tough times in terms of revenue, and the resulting cutbacks, have brought on challengers in the Olivehurst Public Utility District board of directors election on Tuesday.
For the director-at-large 1 seat, Dennise Burbank is challenging incumbent Mike Morrison, while for the director-at-large 2 seat, incumbent Ronald Dougherty, Jr., is facing John Beckett.
Both Beckett and Burbank said the district's recent cutbacks in park maintenance and fire protection compelled them to make a run.
"Allowing the parks to die is unacceptable," said Burbank, who owns an insurance business in Olivehurst and has lived there since 1997. "We need to look for more creative solutions."
Among them would be creating a way for community members to mow and maintain the park lawns, she said.
The Fire Department also could benefit from a fresh perspective, she said, and grants could help bridge its financial gap.
Burbank said the board also needs to take another look at fluoride in its drinking water, acknowledging residents in Plumas Lake who asked the board to remove it because of their health concerns.
Because of declining revenues and increasing costs, OPUD's board has voted to cut back on both fire services and parks in recent years. Morrison, an Olivehurst resident who's been on the board since 2004, said he would not comment on the race, citing a policy of not speaking with media.
Beckett, a retired tow truck driver and Olivehurst resident since the 1970s, said he'd also like to see different thinking for the district's fire and parks services.
In addition to allowing private citizens to adopt a park, similar to Burbank's approach, the district should see if ratepayers could voluntarily pay more for other park needs, he said.
And the Fire Department, which has used a training program in recent months to have low-cost interns, should consider expanding the program, Beckett said.
"My problem with the board right now is you have three members from Plumas Lake," he said, so votes they make on issues affecting historic Olivehurst don't directly affect them. "They have a fire department, and they're making decisions for our fire department."
Dougherty, a Plumas Lake resident elected to the board in 2008, could not be reached for comment.
A third director seat, held by James Carpenter, did not receive a challenger.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.