Our most important goal at the District is to do a great job serving you, the customer. Providing reliable and cost-effective water and sewer service requires great cooperation and commitment from the top down. From the elected Board of Commissioners, to the group of skilled and dedicated employees at the District, we are here to serve you.
It has been nearly two and a half years since COVID-19 first appeared on the scene. It brought with it major changes to the way we, and everyone else, conduct business. To protect staff and community, we “de-populated” the workplace to the greatest extent possible during the initial months of the pandemic. The shift to remote work was new to us and required a huge deployment of laptops and cell phones. With this, the “Zoom” meeting became the normal means of communication, including for Board meetings. As things have transitioned back to normal, we still use Zoom and remote meetings to conduct much of our business.
Early on in the pandemic, the Board recognized that we could not expect employees who could not work remotely while we minimized staff levels in the workplace, or later could not come to the workplace because of Covid-19 contacts, to go unpaid for these mandated absences or use their regular accrued leave. To address this, the Board created a supplemental leave bank that could be used by those employees unable to work because of the pandemic. Overall, by being very careful, the impacts on our staff, including the actual spread of Covid-19 in the workplace and the corresponding adverse impact on our operations from staffing reductions, were minimized.
One outgrowth of the pandemic is that we saw delinquent account balances grow to unprecedented levels during the Governor’s moratorium on water service shutoffs. The Board appreciated that with lost jobs and the impacts of COVID-19 on businesses in the community, it was important to allow customers time to deal with these obligations. Consequently, the Board adopted a Delinquent Account Plan that allowed customers an opportunity to enter into payment plans that would fit their budget. Additionally, rather than returning to shutting off water service to customers with delinquent balances when the shutoff moratorium expired last September, the Plan delayed a return to shutoffs for the largest delinquencies until March of this year (enforcement of shutoffs on smaller delinquent accounts were further delayed until July and September of this year). We have also worked with the Multi Service Center to help customers obtain funds allocated to low-income utility customers. A special recognition goes to our Customer Service staff for managing the many challenges that these difficult circumstances presented.
I look forward to family traveling here this summer to visit (and the comments that they enjoy our water!). It is a pleasure to serve you.